Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Thursday January 12 2006
‘Stand up if you love City’; awful song, lacking in imagination but an absolute necessity for those who sit in the lower tier of the South Stand. If ever evidence were needed to emphasise the decline of football for the hardcore supporter, this song sums it up. Not because of the fact that it’s one of the few songs heard at Eastlands but because it is little more than a reaction to over-zealous stewarding.
Once again the issue will be highlighted at this weekend’s Manchester derby where the visiting, black jacketed ones will be free to stand for 90 minutes to make their aeroplane gestures while those that sit on the other side of the line of stewards will be harassed to sit down or suffer the consequences. Hopefully, with it being a derby, more than usual will resist and we won’t have to hear the same song repeated every 30 seconds.
I suppose this raises the bigger issue of standing at football matches. It has long been a bugbear of mine that while it is ‘criminal’ for me to persistently stand at a football match the same licensing authorities had no issues with me persistently standing at the same venue throughout the duration of an Oasis concert. Discrimination you ask? Undoubtedly is my retort. If I was denied permission to do something others are allowed to do on the basis of my colour, religion or sexuality there would be a public outcry. Why therefore, as a football supporter, should I be prohibited from doing something a music lover is allowed to do in the same stadium? Similarly, at a different venue admittedly, why is it I can persistently stand at an England v Australia test match, with a pint in my hand, and watch the cricket with no repercussions?
What I will get thrown back at me is football is a much nicer place now, it’s more family orientated and of course the police can ‘control’ and ‘monitor’ potential trouble makers and it is that last statement that worries me. Without getting too political on a football website, it is this sort of attitude that is endemic in British society today. Big brother is watching you and you better make sure you behave or we’ll stop you watching football. Mix the political issues with all Premiership clubs ability to charge more for seating and we begin to see why any debate on safe standing is doomed to failure.
Yet would safe standing be such a problem? I don’t think so. If capacities within a safe standing area can be controlled it would suit all supporters. Those that want to stand can stand; those that want to sit can sit without people persistently standing in front of them. Atmosphere would return to football. It’s a model that works perfectly well in Germany, so why not here? I’ll tell you why not …. Because were all victims of control and rip off. Safe standing will only become an issue when they can’t sell the seats as football becomes less fashionable.
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Date:Thursday January 12 2006
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