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West Brom exploring possibility of safe standing at The Hawthorns

Sport | Published:

Albion are sending their stadium manager to Celtic Park as the club explore the possibility of safe standing at The Hawthorns.

Director of Operations Mark Miles will be visiting the Scottish champions next month to look at their 2,900-capacity standing section that was opened this season.

Shareholders of all 20 Premier League clubs will be discussing safe standing at a meeting this Thursday with some interested in installing it.

At the moment, all English clubs in the top two divisions are required to provide all-seater stadiums following an inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster, meaning safe standing areas would need to be agreed by the government first.

This week's meeting will sound out all the clubs' initial thoughts on the matter. Albion are currently open to the idea but will only agree to it at The Hawthorns if it can be proved to be as safe or safer than seated areas.

Miles, who said in early 2015 that safe standing was 'impossible' without completely rebuilding a stand, will report back to the board after his visit to Celtic Park before any decision over the club's stance on the issue is made.

Supporters' club chairman John Homer hopes the Baggies will consult fans and he reckons it has potential to be a success.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Homer. "Provided it is policed properly, having a singing area with safe standing would help bring back the atmosphere in the ground.

"I know there are a lot of young supporters who would appreciate it. "The popular opinion would place it at the back of the Smethwick End because that's where a lot of the singers and chanters are. Most of them stand up anyway.

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"I'd like to see it at the back of away sections as well because you get some problems with people standing and others can't see because they're elderly or young children."

Homer reckons safe standing will help recapture the atmosphere from grounds that has gone missing in recent years.

"You used to go to the game and there was continual noise all the way through," he said.

"As long as it is stewarded properly I don't see a problem." Safe standing with retractable seats that allow clubs to vary the size of the area have been introduced in almost half of the grounds in Germany's Bundesliga.

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