Great news today with the announcement of safe standing being introduced in the UK at Celtic Football Club.
I don’t care about Celtic, or indeed anything else about football in Scotland (apart from hoping that Mike Ashley would go and prey full-time on Rangers rather than Newcastle!), but the fact that this is going to happen only 150 miles up the road from St James’ Park, can only give all of us hope who see standing areas as the only way to ensure decent atmospheres in future years.
Celtic have been given initial permission to introduce an area that will accommodate around 2,600 standing fans, with the area available hopefully for the start of the 2016/17 season.
If the trial is successful then it will surely remove any remaining arguments against why it shouldn’t be allowed in the Premier League.
In Germany there are far bigger crowds than at Newcastle, at a number of stadiums that have safe standing, with the style and design of those areas far removed from what older Newcastle supporters remember (see image below) from past years in English stadiums.
This is the statement Celtic released today:
‘CELTIC Football Club is delighted today (9/6/15) to announce that it has been granted permission to introduce “safe standing” through the installation of a rail seating system at Celtic Park.
Celtic has been at the forefront of attempts in the UK to introduce this measure, having been in dialogue with the relevant authorities for over five years.
It is proposed that the rail seating area will initially accommodate up to 2,600 supporters and after we consult with our supporters, could potentially be introduced for the start of season 2016/17.
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell commented: “Celtic has worked tirelessly on this issue and we are delighted that this permission has finally been granted”.
“The introduction of rail seating at Celtic Park represents an investment in spectator safety. Across football globally, the reality is that some supporters are choosing to stand at matches. This is something we must accept and manage and also understand the positive effect which these areas have on atmosphere at matches”.
“Celtic’s primary objective will always be the safety and comfort of its supporters – this new system will now allow fans to stand safely at matches.”
“Rail seating has been in place in European football for some time and there has been considerable demand for some form of “safe standing” within the UK and particularly from our supporters. We are sure the rail seating section will prove very popular with supporters and we look forward to its introduction.”
“I would like to thank Glasgow City Council for their support in delivering this measure and for the backing they have given to Celtic’s focus on safety at matches.”
Independent Safety and Security expert Dr. Steve Frosdick has been closely involved in Celtic’s work in this area and in the application to the City Council.
Steve added: “This is a great day for the Club and its fans. This is a pioneering move by Celtic and one which has spectator safety at its core”.
“For the first time in the UK, football fans will be able to stand to watch the game from purpose-built accommodation which is demonstrably safe. The club and its fans are to be congratulated for the way they have worked together to make the case to the authorities. Glasgow City Council and the emergency services are also to be commended, firstly for their rigorous scrutiny of the proposal and secondly for having the courage to grant the first approval.”
“Although standing up throughout the match has become increasingly common, persistent standing between rows of seats has been a concern for football clubs and the authorities. Clearly the Club was keen to find a better way of safely accommodating those fans who wanted to stand”.
“There was of course no question of going back to the standing terraces of old. However the new style rail seating found in Germany and Austria provides the solution the Club was seeking. The seat folds away and each fan stands in their own designated space behind a waist-high rail”.
“This is a system which has operated successfully in Europe for a number of years and I am convinced it is one which will prove to be highly successful and popular at Celtic Park.”