Don Foster MP: Standing at football grounds

Football fans are getting a raw deal. 1.4 million who want to play football can’t due to scant facilities. Season tickets for top clubs are a rip-off; costing 5 times more than in Spain and Italy. Disabled fans are treated shamefully. Only two Premiership Clubs meet the recommended level of number of spaces specially designed for wheelchair users. The game is disappearing from free-to-air TV.

And fans can’t stand at matches, though many want to. According to the Football Fans’ Census, 91% of fans think they should be able to choose to stand.

Of course, none of us can forget Hillsborough.

Fourteen years ago, Liberal Democrats were right to support the introduction of all-seater grounds in the top leagues. Nor should we ever support a return to traditional terraces which were clearly unsafe.

But it’s time to reassess standing based on compelling new evidence.

All-seater grounds aren’t necessarily safe. Several clubs say they regularly experience problems with fans standing in seating areas. This is dangerous because those areas simply aren’t designed to support standing. Yet it’s difficult to stop large numbers of people from standing if they’re determined to.

Also, modern developments mean that standing could be introduced safely. Evidence from abroad shows us that supporters can stand safely. In Germany, a standing ticket allows you to enter a specific standing area, usually of around 2,000 fans. Entry to those areas is carefully monitored and controlled by stewards. In some cases, flip-down seats are also included. Standing and seating areas are separated. Everyone can choose how they watch.

Manchester City’s Safety Officer told me that he would welcome safe standing – as long as it was managed properly.

That’s why the party has backed a motion to, following further research, support the introduction of safe-standing for clubs who want to introduce it and only if it meets stringent safety requirements.

Millions of football fans deserve to have their voices heard. Liberal Democrats have listened and will do all we can to back their call for safe standing.

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11 Comments

  • Sensible thinking Don! I like it. Obviously safety standards would be high given the tragedies of the past but a bit of football died with the old terraces and this would go some way to bringing that back.

  • don if not already done; should speak with all of the experts first

  • “The game is disappearing from free-to-air TV.”

    I’m not convinced this is true. There are two live games on analog terrestrial this week, an additional one on free to air digital and extensive hghlights of both premier and non-premier league matches last night,

    That compares well to years past when live football was something of a rarity.

  • First time voter this year. You have my vote just for this

  • Another first time voter here, I would love for this to happen (and you will have my vote also for this!) however i just cant see it, the powers that be such as the FA, Premier League are too obsessed with money, and cheaper standing tickets wouldnt be good for them greedy people (thats the polite way of me saying it!!)

  • I think this will be agreeable to many football fans, I would like to see it happen so long as it’s safe to do so.
    This gets my vote.

    Barry.

  • Evan Roberts 9th Apr '10 - 12:10am

    Respect for you pro-standing stance, but why then try to claim that the Liberal Democrats were right to support the introduction of all-seaters 14 years ago? Safe standing was as possible then as it is now, the new standing terraces are not a new technological invention but simply the practice of good policing and common sense safety design.

  • Totally agree with Don. Football fans are already standing in seated areas. Time to introduce safe standing areas in football grounds in line with up to date safety techniques such as those implemented successfully in Germany. At a bare minimum at least try a pilot at some british grounds. Definitely gets my vote.

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