Manchester United Reportedly Consider Controversial Old Trafford Standing Area

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Manchester United fans display a banner during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United are the latest club to investigate the possibility of a safe-standing area, as Ian Herbert and Robin Scott-Elliot report in The Independent.

United's new chief executive, Ed Woodward, is set to determine the feasibility for the Premier League champions, after hearing supporters' views at a recent fan forum.

The discussion surrounded ways of improving the atmosphere at Old Trafford, which many feel has declined in recent years, per Adam Crafton of the Daily Mail.

Woodward hails from Essex and is a Chelmsford City fan, a club in the Conference South. They have played at the Melbourne Athletics Stadium since 2006 and have room for over 2,000 standing supporters—something United fans hope will influence Woodward.

Supporters have championed safe-standing for several years, in an effort to improve both the atmosphere and sense of occasion at grounds.

Having just absorbed the latest offerings of international football, it's clear just how loud other European nations are compared to England, with the English representatives often out-sung in the Champions League.

Aston Villa, Cardiff, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Hull have all given their support to this cause, per the Independent's article, with United's presence now offering substantial weight to the process.

The 1989 Football Spectators Act, which orders all stadia in the two top divisions to be all-seater, is a main stumbling block to any change—as well as any potential loss of matchday income.

With the Hillsborough disaster still such an emotional topic for so many after 96 football supporters needlessly lost their lives, a return to standing is a delicate matter for authorities to handle.

Both the FA and the Premier League would need to support this campaign, and while this currently seems unlikely, there's a far better chance with United on board.

As noted by Herbert and Scott-Elliot, Hannover 96's rail seats are one of the examples the Manchester United Supporters' Trust are keen to investigate, which this video highlights.

While this seems entirely practical, the fact the capacity would not increase—meaning no additional income—and those standing would presumably be entitled to pay less, won't make it as appealing to Premier League clubs.

Having endured such a wretched summer, missing out on a host of key transfer targets, Woodward is wise to investigate ways of improving his status.

If can he can play a part in bringing safe-standing back to the Premier League, he would drastically improve relations between fans and the board.