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'Safe' Standing Hits News Again

'Safe' Standing Hits News Again

Over the weekend one newspaper issued details of a survey, albeit a limited one, into the return to standing, or 'safe' standing at our football stadia.

The Football Supporters Federation have campaigned for some time for Safety Advisory Groups and even the Football Licensing Authority to give serious consideration to allowing Clubs' dedicated supporters to stand. It helps create an atmosphere and could in some ways increase match day attendances.

They have examined the concept of rail seating, which is used at some grounds in Germany. This is where a seast folds up into a barrier rail, presenting the seatholder with a choice of whether to sit or stand. It also covers the UEFA directive that participants in its competitions need to have all-seater stadia on UEFA match days.

There are a number of issues around this. First of all Clubs have spent enormous amounts of money in converting old stadia, as in the case of Stretford, West Brom and Everton from a mix of seats and standing to exclusively seated areas and those with new-build stadia such as City and Arsenal have had the stadium constructed in such a way that the 'rake', i.e. the degree of steepness of the seating decks, make it almost impossible to reinstate standing as it is considered to be too steep.

The concept of German-style rail seating simply won't work on even the newer stadia in this country because the seating rows are not wide enough and therefore it would be a major civil engineering project at each stadium. Also the concourse areas which house the food and drink concessions are built to a pre-determined size based upon the maximum number of people expectedin those areas. If you were to increase attendances by allowing standing, the bar areas would not be able to cope with the demands at half time, not would toilet areas.

There are no statistics that tell us that it is unsafe to stand in a seated area, especially on say Level One at the Etihad. It would however be considered to be dangerous on Level 2 and Level 3 based upon the steepness.

At their Autumn Conference last week the Football Safety Officers Association, members of which have the direct responsibility of ensuring that the match day experience passes without safety problems, entered into a lively debate with Peter Dakin from the FSF.

In a session hosted by Professor Steve Frosdick, Peter put forward a number of issues and reasons why the football safety authorities and local authorities should consider the return to standing at Premier League and Championship grounds. However many of the Safety Officers came back with the reasons why not, many of which I have already discussed.

In short, we cannot expect cash-strapped clubs to invest in the prospect of introducing these safe standing areas, based upon the cost alone,especially when structural changes would be needed.

Clubs that have newer stadia and maybe have some cash wouldn't be able to put these systems in because their newer stadium was built to a different profile which in unsuitable for standing.

The debate will go on and on, there is no doubt about that, but the practicalities are that it won't happen.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tranmere Loyal
Date:Monday October 17 2011
Time: 10:00AM


Standing isn't safe when heavy handed stewards get involved, that's for sure
17/10/2011 10:13:00
It's an interesting debate, as ever, and good to see a national newspaper backing the campaign. Well done, the Daily Star Sunday! Just a few corrections of fact: - the depth of tread required for rail seats is no more than in practically all of our grounds. 750mm, for instance, the standard in most UK grounds, is more than adequate (the belief that a deeper tread is required stems from a visit that the FLA made to Hamburg in 2001, where, unfortunately, they saw a standing-cum-seating solution that would be wholly unsuitable for this country and that does require a deeper tread. However, Hamburg are the only club using that model and it is not 'rail seats', which are what is being proposed by the FSF and currently in use at 8 out of 18 Bundesliga grounds) - the rake in at least parts of most grounds is less than 25 degrees, currently considered the maximum for a standing area - concourses etc. would not need any changes in order to install rail seats. Changes would only have to be made if in doing so the club sought to increase the capacity. One is not a prerequisite of the other. Having said all that, retrofitting some grounds would prove a challenge. Our premise, however, is that clubs should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether the benefits justify the cost - just as they do with any other ground development issues - and not have this freedom denied them by the government.
17/10/2011 12:21:00
I've got a German mate and he supports Allemania Aachen - a yo-yo German team which every few years has a pop at the Bundesliga. They play in yellow so they're quite a lot like Norwich. They had a great little stadium called the tivoli, atmosphere was amazing but it was dated so they built a new one and called it the new Tivoli. One whole end is terrace. The numbers entering are regulated but they haven't lost anywhere near the atmosphere that normally accompanies a relocation in this country. I am all for standing room. The atmosphere at german grounds in general is far better. They haven't lost their identity as much as we have and the terracing issue has played a big part in that.
17/10/2011 16:01:00
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