World Football

Football League Makes Move to Bring Back Standing at All-Seater Stadiums

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Chris Kirkland of Sheffield Wednesday looks on, as the Leeds United supporters look on from the top tier of the stand during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United at Hillsborough Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Sheffield, England,  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

The Football League has agreed to lobby the government in a bid to allow its 72 clubs the option of implementing safe-standing zones in all-seater stadiums.

As reported by Ben Rumsby of The Telegraph, the move comes after 70 percent of Football League teams supported chief executive Shaun Harvey's wish to persuade sports minister Helen Grant:

It is the first time one of the English game's governing bodies has been prepared to ask the Government to legitimise standing areas at all-seat stadiums since they were effectively outlawed almost 20 years ago.

The league had previously resisted pressure from its clubs to agitate for change but there has been a rethink since the appointment of Harvey, with Thursday’s decision a major breakthrough by campaigners for safe-standing areas.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) (NO SALES)  In this handout image provided by Liverpool FC, members of the congregation hold aloft Everton and Liverpool scarves during the 24th Hillsborough Anniversary Memorial Service
Handout/Getty Images

Any decision to insert "rail seating" would be taken seriously, especially as the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 continues to remain in the consciousness of English football fans.

Dangerous overcrowding caused 96 Liverpool supporters to lose their lives during the FA Cup semifinal with Nottingham Forrest, an event that was brought on by the incompetence of police. Liverpool fans were wrongfully blamed for the incident and continue to fight for justice against the subsequent cover-up, as noted by Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail.

As such, the 1989 Football Spectators Act banned standing areas from England's top two divisions, per Ben Bloom of The Telegraph. While the Hillsborough disaster was undoubtedly one of football's most tragic occurrences, moments of such despair are rare.

Safe-standing zones are utilised across Europe, most famously at Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion. The Bundesliga side's "Yellow Wall" inhabits 25,000 fans, many of whom will jump up and down throughout matches, as reported by Ian Chadband of The Telegraph.

Chadband confirms between "800-1,000" British supporters travel to each Dortmund home fixture in order to experience the heightened atmosphere at a decent price.

Tickets are usually cheaper in safe-standing areas and often provide fans with a more intense way of watching their team. If rail seats are to make an appearance, the option to sit or stand could liven up English contests, which so often succumb to a lack of noise.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  General View of the dedicated singing section for home fans during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on October 23, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo b
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Bleacher Report UK guest columnist and talkSPORT presenter Stan Collymore is in favour of the move, as noted on Twitter:

Alan Wilson of the Mirror reported how Manchester United are considering removing certain seated sections at Old Trafford, with clubs such as Aston Villa, Cardiff and Sunderland supporting the idea.

In 2011, the Scottish Premier League bowed to supporters' demands and relaxed its safe-standing rules, per BBC Sport.

Although there is a long way to go until all English clubs will sell safe-standing tickets, the lobbying process should be seen as a major step for those in favour of getting out of their seats.

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