Manchester United and Newcastle United have been given special dispensation with regard to new stadium rules.
Along with a cap on how much away fans pay for tickets, the Premier League had also introduced a new rule for where away supporters had to be located – measures designed to help as many travelling supporters as possible and the matchday atmosphere they help create.
This being a major factor in helping to sell Premier League football around the World, full stadiums and the spectacle/atmosphere that having a large away support helps generate.
English football, helped by the relative closeness of clubs, traditionally always having far more away supporters than any other country.
The Premier League had agreed that as from this coming season, all clubs would need to give at least one section of seats next to the pitch to away supporters.
However, The Mail reports that Newcastle United have been given an exemption, at least for one year.
With confirmation only seven weeks ago that the club would definitely be in the Premier League, Newcastle have been given special dispensation to keep away supporters in their current position in the highest part of St James Park – Level 7 (of the Leazes End).
Newcastle had claimed that safety issues made such a move impossible at St James Park, with the key issue allegedly being that having some away fans next to pitchside would make it difficult/impossible to segregate rival supporters at various exits.
The Premier League are said to be committed to forcing the change through for the following (2018/19) season but at least no Newcastle season ticket holders will need to be moved for the coming season.
No doubt the club will continue to fight the move and also get police backing as to the current arrangements being the best in terms of safety/security when it comes to segregation.
The Mail report says that Manchester United will also not be forced to move away supporters for the coming season, no away fans will be located at pitchside with a large section for disabled fans separating travelling fans from the pitch.
It isn’t clear whether Manchester United are expected to fall in line as from 2018/19 but it would appear to be very difficult for the league to enforce it with Newcastle in 12 months time, if they continue to allow Man Utd to be exempt.
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore when announcing the away fans decision back in November 2016:
“It is about atmosphere.
“One of the unique things about our game, particularly in England, is the amount of away fans and the noise they create.
“When an away goal is scored, you want that atmosphere and interaction between the two sets of fans.”