The thought of standing in football stadiums immediately conjures up thoughts of disaster amongst many, whereas I was fairly disappointed to hear that only 13 clubs were in favour of initiating a scheme which would see safe standing areas placed in grounds across the country. Currently Aston Villa stands as the lone top-flight club ready to give safe standing areas a reintroduction to the English game.
Football and the overall safety of fans within the crowd has advanced dramatically since the Hillsborough tragedy, which has acted as the major stumbling point for safe standing campaign groups in recent years but the time has come for English football to bring back one of the things that once made our game so great.
Not only would the reintroduction of safe standing be the catalyst of an increase in the atmosphere and level of noise made in a stadium, but would also act as a safer option than what is currently taking place at grounds all around the country, with many fans choosing to constantly stand during football matches even when advised not to by club stewards.
Rail seats, which are widely used in Germany and in place at clubs such as VfB-Stuttgart and Werder Bremen, are robust metal seats incorporated with a high back including a sturdy rail that fans can hold. The rails have flip-up seats which are locked upright during Bundesliga matches at which fans can stand, but then brought down using a key held by ground staff for Champions League matches, in order to comply with UEFA’s all stadium rule which requires all spectators to remain seated.
Those involved with the safe standing campaign have attempted to quash suggestions that rail seats are dangerous and have been keen to stress how the seats are starkly different from old style terraces. Peter Daykin, safe standing coordinator at the Football Supporter Federation during an interview with the Independent told those present “Standing was outlawed on grounds of safety, and yet successive governments have agreed that standing is safe – it’s hard not to when it is done perfectly safely every week at rugby grounds, lower league football grounds and in top football leagues all around the world.”
I am certain safe standing would bring back a vital human element to the corporate machine that many say football is becoming. The reinstatement of these standing areas would act as a fine example of how football has been able to work together to overcome a tragedy such as the Hillsborough disaster, learn from the mistakes, act upon them and come out the other side with a safe solution for all supporters.