Is it really safe to reintroduce ‘safe standing’ at football games?

Should Arsenal introduce ‘safe standing’ at the Emirates? by Dan Smith

As I knew the international break is traditionally slow for Arsenal news, I thought I’d save this weekend for a topic I care deeply about.

In January the Premiership will host its first ever games where standing will be an option to fans.

Spurs, Chelsea  and the Manchester clubs will be the first top flight fixtures in 31 years to implement ‘safe standing’ as a trial to prove that the process can be implemented safely.

Cardiff have also be chosen.

Some supporters have welcomed the development because they believe not having to always be seated will improve the atmosphere and match day experience.

Clubs of course simply see this as a chance to make more money.

If they get permission to have standing only areas eventually that increases potential capacity, especially when it’s time to redevelop or even build a new stadium.

Let’s though remember why in 1990 the UK government made it a lawful requirement for all Football grounds to be all-seater (relaxed in 1992 when then Division 2 and 3 were given flexibility).

The late eighties had seen several fatal incidents where spectators were trapped due to fencing.

The Hillsborough disaster led to the government enforcing legislation that England and Wales had to adhere to, to qualify for a licence.

Overcrowding resulted in the death of 96 supporters on 15th April 1989.

While some families still seek accountability, it’s clear that in 2021 if too many people were in a congested area they would just walk forward onto the pitch instead of having to climb a fence.

Police and stewards have also found it easier to supervise since each customer was allocated a seat number instead of estimating how many bodies can fit into one section, which Lord Justice Taylor claimed was the main cause of death at Hillsborough.

The report argues that seating allows clubs to be in control of knowing exactly how many people are in what part of the ground while eliminating ‘unpredictable movements’ like swaying and surging.

Statistics show that this particular recommendation was correct.

Name me since 1990 in the top flight the equivalent of…

Burden Park 1941- 33 deaths due to too many people squeezed into a small building

Ibrox – 1971 – a simple accident as someone tripping over killed 66 people simply because they were congested.

If you’re not standing you can’t fall over

.

Brussels – 1986

Liverpool fans charged Juventus fans.

The only way to get free was to try and climb over a wall which collapsed. 39 deaths.

That’s an example of the benefit of clubs knowing who is sat where, by having tickets allocated to seats instead of an estimation.

That’s the one stat I can’t shake.

If it isn’t broke why does need it need fixing?

Why try to return to a formula which failed?

Why gamble?

The juice isn’t worth the squeeze?

I can’t think of a single reason that justifies changing something that has proven to make going to football safer.

Atmosphere?

Money?

Are they really more important than a person’s welfare?

If one person even scrapes their knee because of standing, that is one too many.

If one person got injured, then football has failed that person.

If the worst were to happen, blood would be on the hands of anyone who pushed this just for more revenue and/or those who wanted a better atmosphere

I believe that clubs truly believe they can host games with standing being done safely.

Their intentions will be noble in that every measure will be considered to meet standards.

Yet it was only last summer where morons stormed Wembley without tickets .

While not policed well, they couldn’t cause a crush because people were sat down.

Timing is everything. After essentially a home tournament which proved we still have serious issues in the UK regarding grown adults thinking football is this bubble where they can say and do what they want, is now the time you want to trust them to try something which requires consideration and common sense?

One person getting hurt is one too many, and I fail to see any angle bigger than that?

Be Kind in The Comments

Dan Smith

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12 Comments

  1. gotanidea says:

    Maybe it will be safe if the standing areas are very small, far from each other and tightly monitored

  2. Stephanie says:

    I feel it’s not worth taking the risk

    1. Chris says:

      It’s actually *safer*, because you can safely stand if needed. Don’t confuse safe standing with the old terraces.

  3. lcebox says:

    Maybe if they count the tickets sold they can control the amount in those spaces.
    I dont want to see any hurt in any walk of life but they stand in many other sports and nothing has happened.

    1. Chris says:

      You are allocated a seat in exactly the same way as an all-seater area. It is nothing like the terraces of old.

  4. Declan says:

    @Dan Smith, how does it affect attendance figures? Rail seating just allows seated fans the opportunity to stand safely as at present an awful lot of fans just stand up in front of their seats. The fans will still have their seat with a standing rail in front of it. For once it’s not about money it’s about how a lot of us fans prefer to watch football, standing up. I stand in the pub to watch and even at home a lot of the time do too.

  5. Chris says:

    I grew up on the terraces, which could be incredibly dangerous at times.
    That said, being a regular in a safe standing area in Orlando for several years, I can only assume that those who object to safe standing have never experienced it in a modern stadium.
    It is significantly safer than seating.
    Safe standing is nothing like those old terraces, and is a step forward, not back.

  6. PJ-SA says:

    Very simple solution….different standing blocks and your ticket gives you access to a specific one only via a steward.

  7. ken1945 says:

    Dan, I really can’t go along with your examples (awful as they were of course) as being part of the measurement of why standing areas shouldn’t be re-introduced today.

    We are talking about decades ago and times have moved on.

    I’m sure you’ve “sat” in the North Bank?
    I know one doesn’t “sit” in the lower tier of that stand, except at half time and the stewards make no attempt to police it, because it is impossible to get nigh on 20,000 fans to sit down.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that clubs will make extra revenue either, standing up or sitting down takes up the same space… unless one goes back to the days of your examples and that would never be allowed due to health and safety issues.

    By the way, having seats does not guarantee safety – in fact said seats have been used by morons as projectiles at games!!!

    1. Angus says:

      Totally agree. All those incidents would happen with seating if played out in the same way today as they were then (probably worse actually in most cases, over crowding with seats would be a nightmare) be it rushing ala Liv/juv (which still happens across Europe every year to this day, without the dodgy wall or the lack of stewards), opening the gates and letting people flood in or simple over crowding in general. Rails makes sense and solves the issue of people rushing forward, will actually be harder than seats are currently to do that unsafely in standing areas. Know I’ve personally jumped over multiple seats to celebrate a goal away from home (witnessed people literally running from seat to seat as well), not the only one for sure.

  8. Reggie says:

    No it is not, we are in a pandemic and things like this can wait.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Reggie, sitting next to someone in a pandemic is just the same as standing next to someone in a pandemic – unless you can explain otherwise?

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