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Express & Star comment: Safe-standing at football grounds is 'no-brainer'

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

The introduction of safe standing in our football grounds really should be a no-brainer.

Wolves are installing safe-standing seats as part of a trial

Clubs in the top two tiers of English football are currently not allowed to have traditional terraces in their stadiums, but elsewhere in the world standing areas have been a major success.

Sides in Germany’s Bungesliga – one of the world’s best supported leagues – have welcomed safe standing areas, which they say have improved fan engagement and boosted the atmosphere on match days.

In this country, the case for safe standing is being pushed right here in the West Midlands, with some of our clubs at the forefront of the battle.

Shrewsbury Town opened England’s first such area at the start of the current season. Aston Villa and Wolves were among the first clubs to express an interest in bringing back standing sections, while Albion offered to run a pilot scheme in the Smethwick End featuring 3,600 railed seats.

That application was rejected by the Government, but the calls for safe standing have not gone away. If anything, the success of Salop’s scheme means they have increased in volume.

Now Wolves are set to pilot a small safe-standing section, ready for any change in Government policy on all-seater stadia in the top two divisions.

The transformation of so many of Britain’s football grounds occurred following a particularly dark time for the sport. In the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, it was clear that many stadiums were simply not fit for purpose.

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Thankfully, times have changed for the better. There now appears to be little valid reason for ministers to block clubs from trialling standing areas.

Readers of a certain vintage will recall the wondrous noise coming from a packed South Bank or Holte End.

It is time to let clubs, fans and local safety authorities decide whether a limited amount of safe standing is right for them.

Anyone who attends football matches regularly will know that fans routinely stand up in seated areas. This is not safe, and accidents can – and do – happen. For too long, football fans have been treated like second class citizens.The Government must listen to reason and allow our top clubs to trial safe standing.

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