Give The People What They Want: Bring Back Standing in the Premier League

Standing at football matches is back on the agenda. But we’ve had all-seater stadiums for a generation, and in that time we’ve had no major disasters at English football grounds. That proves all-seater must be the right thing to do then, doesn’t it? No it doesn’t. There is nothing inherently dangerous about people standing at football matches, and it has many advantages.

This is what they use in Germany: Rail seats. All the info is on the pictures, so I won’t repeat it. Try to ignore the dodgy-looking balding German man demonstrating how to stand.rail seats 001

rail seats 002

The Arsenal atmosphere group REDaction currently have a campaign on to encourage Arsenal to take a lead in pressing for safe standing areas to be brought back to the Premier League. You can support this by signing their petition here.

Safe standing areas are a no-brainer for so many reasons. At the moment clubs are legally bound to make every effort to make fans sit down in the seats provided. All this does is piss off the people who want to stand. It’s also a rule that is never properly applied, because away fans aren’t made to sit down 99 times out of 100. Why not? Simply because there aren’t enough stewards to do the job, and the police would rather turn a blind eye than have to wade in to 3,000 fans who really don’t give a crap if they get banned from a stadium they visit at most once a season. So home fans get even more pissed off that not everyone is treated the same.

Safe standing areas allow segregation of ‘sitters’ from ‘standers’, so that no one is inconvenienced, either by the stewards or other fans. Each to his own, live and let live. With safe standing, the very young, the elderly, the infirm and the plain lazy can all sit without the need to peer round people standing in front of them, while the standers can go as mental as they want without annoying anyone. It’s so obvious.

Standing also allows more fans to be packed into the same space. The clubs could knock a bit off ticket prices and still make more money. In Arsenal’s case unfortunately this might be slightly more tricky, as there are issues with increasing the stadium capacity, in particular the local transport arrangements and tube capacity to get people away in larger numbers. But I’d argue that it would be worth Arsenal spending money to improve Drayton Park and Holloway Road stations to enable greater capacity. How much to put escalators in Holloway Road? Even if it’s £5m it wouldn’t take long to get that back.

Banning standing was a knee-jerk response to hooliganism dressed up as ‘health and safety’ in the aftermath of the tragedy of Hillsborough. No one is suggesting going back to the days of huge open terraces with 20,000 people moving freely, and the potential danger that entails. We’ve moved on from that. But there’s no reason not to give people what they want.

Follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5

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4 thoughts on “Give The People What They Want: Bring Back Standing in the Premier League

  1. Your quite right to claim that the ‘all seater stadium’ was a knee jerk reaction to the Hillsborough tragedy and a cover up for the F.A,’s decision to use a stadium that did not have a safety certificate for the semi final match.

    I remember a retired crowd control police officer at Highbury saying on TV that the tragedy of Hillsborough could not have happened at Highbury (the same goes for the Ems) because the fans were/are not caged in at the front. Highbury also had a safety certificate.

    Yet the superficial experts, journalists and pundits delight in ignoring the fact that standing is a safe way to watch football.

    The ones who should be banned from football are not those who want to stand but officials who hide behind their mistakes refuse to listen to what those who are actually involved in football i.e. the clubs and the fans are saying.

    No one involved in football wanted the gang culture that was rife in football back in the 70’s and 80’s. That of course had to be stopped. Arsenal did much to ensure that it didn’t happen at Highbury.

    As usual Arsenal were ignored and football has remained stuck in the muddy vision of those who control the game.

      • Southampton v Everton was the last one at Highbury before the FA stopped using Highbury. There was crowd trouble where fans of both sides clashed and the FA said that they would not consider Highbury unless it was possible to provide 100% segragation between fans. This would have meant putting up fences. The Arsenal board refused to do so.

  2. I think you are right on that. Highbury had a safety certificate but was not acceptable to the FA because it didn’t have fences, Hillsborough didn’t have a safety certificate but had fences so it was considered a safe place for fans to stand.

    In my opinion and it has been my opinion from the moment Iearnt didn’t have a safety certificate the FA are to blame for Hillsborough. There is also the matter of the police who went along with using a stadium without a safety certificate. The police have history of demanding different times of games for ‘safety reasons’ but it seems not too fussed about a lack of the safety certificate for a stadium.

    Standing was safe before Hillsborough and standing would be safe now in our stadiums with the right controls and crowd management as happens in Germany.

    Sadly for us fans the FA, EPL and the PMGOL are closed shops with their own agenda that excludes the fans and even some of the clubs.

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