Two things are clear at St James Park this season.
Firstly, Newcastle are getting massive support in the second tier, with an average of fifty thousand paying fans for Championship home games so far.
Secondly, the atmosphere is rubbish.
Whilst initiatives such as Gallowgate Flags are a positive, waving flags around before a match is clearly having zero effect when it comes to the actual 90 minutes of the game.
Yes, you can say it is down to the players to help towards the atmosphere and of course things take care of themselves when you have the kind of finale we saw at the Norwich game.
However, fans over a certain age know that the team playing well should be pretty irrelevant when it comes to supporters getting behind the team.
Younger fans are missing out on a big part of the match going experience that so many of us loved in our youth and surely this has to change sometime soon.
Safe standing has to be the way forward and imagine having the lower levels at the Gallowgate and Leazes ends all standing?
Borussia Dortmund have tens of thousands of fans safe standing and creating a brilliant atmosphere, Celtic have safe standing this season as part of a trial in Scotland – and now Brighton are the latest to show their interest in exploring the idea of introducing it.
If Newcastle United care about the atmosphere at matches and giving the fans, especially younger ones, the very best matchday experience – then the club needs to throw their weight behind the growing pressure on safe standing to be allowed at all English clubs once again.
Official Brighton Statement:
‘Brighton & Hove Albion today confirmed that the club has begun to look at the possibility of installing limited safe standing at the Amex, and fans will have an opportunity to have their say – along with other key groups – in the coming weeks on what has long been an emotive subject for football supporters.
The EFL first confirmed they were open to discussions on the topic in February 2014; and Albion’s move follows
The Football Association’s confirmation that it will soon commence discussions with the government about the possibility of a change in legislation, with The FA’s chairman Greg Clarke a keen advocate of safe standing – dating back to his time as EFL chairman.
Albion chief executive Paul Barber, who has already made fact-finding missions to both Borussia Dortmund and Celtic Park during the past 12 months, says the club is now ready and keen to explore the possibility – but it’s important for fans to remember that the club can only fully consider such a move if the government changes legislation.
Albion will evaluate the possibility of introducing safe standing to a small section of the Amex based on several factors.
Aside from a change to legislation, and securing support from its Safety Advisory Group, the club will also need to look at the cost of installation, where it might be feasible inside the stadium, the potential impact on crowd behaviour and atmosphere, and a range of other commercial considerations.
“The Amex is currently one of the best and most modern all-seater stadia in Europe with an outstanding record for crowd behaviour and safety. Safe standing has not been high on our agenda simply because of the government legislation ruling against it, but there now appears to be more of an appetite for change and, if this proves to be the case, we want to fully understand the implications for our club and stadium as early as possible.
“At our most recent football club board meeting I presented to the club’s chairman and directors some initial background, based on my own personal visit to Dortmund for a match and a very informative meeting at Celtic with senior members of their operations team, architects, engineers and safety experts a couple of weeks ago.
“Having personally experienced rail seating for a game at Borussia Dortmund, it is a very different experience to the terracing of old, but it does offer a safe alternative to those who wish to stand at football.
“Celtic’s system is slightly different – it’s one standing place replacing one seat – but it’s something we want to look at further and, as a progressive club which puts the match day experience very high on our list of priorities for fans, we want to be well prepared for any changes which may come.
“An important part of this preparation and process is that we want to hear what our fans think.
“In terms of setting expectations, it’s already clear from our initial research that the introduction of safe standing to any area of our stadium would not increase the capacity of the Amex and it would not allow us to reduce ticket prices in any standing area.
“From an economic point of view, the capital cost of a safe standing installation is substantial, and particularly so in a new stadium which already has seen considerable investment in state of the art, very comfortable, seating. How we might fund such a project is one of the very important considerations we must debate.”