News: Safe standing at English football grounds to be discussed in Parliament
By Nick Britten, Editor, People Movement Online
The issue of safe standing at football grounds in the English Premier League and Championship will be discussed in Parliament after over 100,000 supporters signed a petition calling for the topic to be discussed.
Support among fans and clubs for the introduction of rail seating is growing, and MPs will discuss the issue on June 25th.
It comes weeks after the Government refused an application from Premier League club West Bromwich Albion to introduce 3,600 rail seats in the home end of the stadium.
West Brom have since been relegated to the Championship and will join their fellow English Football League clubs in taking part in a survey in conjunction with the Football Supporters’ Federation, to see whether there is a consensus among clubs for safe standing.
Standing at football grounds in the top two leagues was made illegal by the Football Spectators’ Act in 1989, put into place following recommendations made in the Taylor Report after the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.
After West Brom’s proposal was rejected by the Government, the FSF, which last week met 20 MPs from the Football Supporters All Party Parliamentary Group to talk about safe standing, accused Tracey Crouch, the Sports Minister of “declaring war on fans”. The Minister said support for safe standing was being driven by a “vocal minority”.
Shrewsbury Town, who play in League 1 so are not bound by the same law, will be installing rail seats at their all-seater stadium in the summer, ahead of the new season.
Ironically, they are in the running to be promoted to the Championship through the end of season play-offs, and should they be successful will not be able to use them for football matches next season. They will however be used for other events such as concerts.
Jon Darch of campaign group Safe Standing Roadshow told BBC Sport: “We could have a situation where Shrewsbury and West Brom are in the same league – but one has been given permission for rail seating and the other has not.”
FSF chief executive Kevin Miles said: “We’re pleased that the issue will be heading to Parliament and we welcome the opportunity to progress the debate around standing at football.
“It’s clear that football fans want the choice between standing and sitting – that simple choice has huge support among match-going fans across the country.”
Last year, Ken Scott, Chief Inspector at the Sports Ground Safety Authority, told People Movement Online that there was a growing risk of supporters being injured at football grounds by persistently standing up in all-seated areas.