Last month the Scottish Premier League relaxed the rules on standing and has allowed for safe standing areas to be reintroduced. Currently Rangers, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Motherwell are all currently exploring the option of installing safe standing areas in their stadiums. The key difference between English clubs and Scottish clubs is the Scottish clubs are not bound by the Taylor Report and English laws so they have one less problem to over. The Premier League has said in the past it doesn’t want to introduce safe standing back into the Premier League but now certain English clubs are exploring the idea. Aston Villa is one club to have plans in place and is seeking support at the next Premier League meeting from other clubs. Arsenal and City have also been rumoured to be interested in safe standing areas. The type of standing that would in place would be very different from the standing areas you see at many lower league clubs or the type we saw in the past decades before standing was banned. If reintroduced Scottish and English clubs would follow the Germany system of fold up seats and bars where a stand can be converted to either safe standing or seated if required under UEFA regulations.
Villa is one of many clubs where standing takes place for long periods of time even though it is banned. The same can be said for most other clubs. The Kop at Anfield, K Stand and the Stretford End at Old Trafford are all areas where no one will sit down for 90 minutes. Manchester United have been warned in the past by the local council for persistent standing but it still carries on. Much of it is over looked. Even at away games clubs like Liverpool have admitted persistent standing isn’t a problem, so a question needs to be asked. Is the current law 15 years out of date? It would seem so as much has happened. Hooligans aren’t anywhere near a big a issue as they were 20 or 30 years ago. Football is safer, new technology and techniques have been developed. Its also been proven standing in seated at Premier League stadiums isn’t dangerous. It happens at every away game up and down the country every Saturday and Sunday. When was the last time there was an issue because fans were standing? The Germans have also developed a very successful and safe standing system. I believe its time for the Government, FA and Premier League to allow Villa to install a safe standing system as in Germany which can be monitored. It will prove ‘standing’ wasn’t the issue. It was everything around it and everyone knows it. Everything has to be managed if it isn’t, problems will occur.
Another problem with the current Premier League system is the ticket price and everything that goes with football. Its about money and many clubs have lost a certain type of supporter over the past 10 years to do the huge increases in price of a football ticket. If you’re a fan of Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal etc ticket prices are normally £35 to 50 or maybe more. At Bolton, Blackburn and City it’s more like £25-35. Standing tickets would not only bring the price down, they’d increase the attendances, capacity and the type of people attending football matches. Those priced out could now afford to attend games. For clubs like Bolton and Blackburn, safe standing areas could improve the atmosphere and bring back a community feel to being a fan. It should in theory improve the atmosphere at any ground it was introduced. I’ve not really heard any argument against it and there is a lot of support, its time the law was changed but changed with regulations on how standing is managed. Managing the system and the type of system is the key to success.
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