Football clubs in the top divisions will be allowed to introduce safe standing areas into their grounds, under manifesto plans unveiled today by the Liberal Democrats.
Safe standing already operates in domestic leagues across Europe, including Germany, Austria and Sweden and is backed by 92% of football fans and 70% of football clubs in the UK.
Under the plans clubs would be allowed to work with their supporters to introduce standing areas, which provide better atmospheres and allow clubs to offer cheaper safe standing season tickets.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Culture, Media & Sport John Leech MP said:
“The Liberal Democrats believe football clubs should be allowed to introduce safe standing areas where there is a desire to do so. Safe standing is allowed in many other sports and we do not believe that the top level of football should be an exception.
“We are not calling for a return of the terraces of the 1980s. Modern safe standing areas using ‘rail seating’ operate very successfully in top tier football across Europe.
“When clubs & fans are in favour of safe standing and it can be done safely, then the Government shouldn’t get in the way. That is why Liberal Democrats want to change the law to let clubs introduce safe standing.
“Safe standing offers supporters more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets. It is an idea whose time has come and I am proud that it is the Liberal Democrats who are the first political party to commit to delivering this.”
Notes to Editors
There are several options for safe standing areas. The most commonly used one, and the one most likely to be used in the UK, is ‘rail seating’, a system where a safety barrier and flip down seat is equipped on every other row or step, so the areas can be changed from seats to standing areas depending on the event requirements. Rail seats also mean that clubs playing in Europe, where UEFA require all seater stadiums, could convert to seating if required.
Bristol City have recently installed rail seating at Ashton Gate which will be used for standing at rugby & seating at football. You can read more about rail seating here:http://www.safestandingroadshow.co.uk/home
Safe Standing Facts
Safe standing areas improve the atmosphere and contribute to a better match day experience.When asked in a recent poll by the Football Supporters’ Federation, over 70% of fans stated that they liked to stand because it created a better atmosphere. -http://www.fsf.org.uk/campaigns/safe-standing/safe-standing-facts/#BENEFITS
The majority of football fans want the choice. Some fans like to stand, some fans prefer to sit, we want to give all fans the choice. And we have the backing of supporters with nine out of ten fans wanting to be given the choice according to the Football Supporters Federationhttp://www.fsf.org.uk/campaigns/safe-standing/why-does-the-fsf-back-safe-standing/
Allowing clubs to introduce safe standing areas gives them more flexibility and could lead to a reduction in ticket prices. Watching football is expensive. Safe standing areas allow clubs to accommodate a higher density of supporters safely which can mean cheaper ticket prices for all. In both England and abroad ticket prices for standing areas are typically lower than in seated areas making the stadiums more socially inclusive. For example, standing tickets at Bayern Munich begin as low as £150 - http://www.fsf.org.uk/campaigns/safe-standing/safe-standing-facts/
This change requires no new primary legislation, but simply requires an amendment to the Football Spectators Act 1989.
The rules governing sporting grounds are covered by the Sports Ground Safety Authority. This change to safe standing would apply to clubs in England and Wales.