Premier League clubs are meeting today for one of their regular meetings and for the first time, potentially bringing in safe standing areas is one of the issues they will be talking about.
Great news this morning for those fans who believe that the introduction of safe standing areas is essential to rescuing the atmosphere in the modern game.
Even better, ahead of the meeting it has been revealed that only one of the 20 clubs is ‘formally opposed’ to the idea.
Chief Sports Writer for the Independent, Ian Herbert, has reported that Liverpool are that one club who are opposed, with 13 Premier League clubs having already ‘indicated an interest or active commitment’ to safe standing, whilst the remaining half dozen are believed to be open-minded about the idea.
This is of course only the first step but it is a significant one.
With the Premier League ‘product’ relying so much on the atmosphere that comes over on the TV screens to sell it, club owners are no doubt recognising that something has to be done to safeguard their finances/assets.
In Germany there are massive numbers of fans who use safe standing areas every match, the atmospheres far better than in England and their stadiums arguably safer, as fans (especially away ones) who stand in grounds in England are more likely to injure themselves in areas not designed for standing in.
How long a process would take is anybody’s guess but if the Premier League clubs are overwhelmingly in favour, then the next logical step would be for representatives to then engage with the government as to changing legislation to allow safe standing to be implemented. There is also widespread belief that new legislation might not be necessary, with the Home Secretary potentially having the discretion to alter what is in place at the minute.
With different laws covering the issue in Scotland, Celtic are already trialling a safe standing area of just under three thousand supporters this season and many of the Premier League have visited the Glasgow club to see what the reality is, with others set to follow.
That would almost certainly be the case in the Premier League down the line, with one or more clubs trialling an area before widespread use was then allowed.
Ian Herbert lists Tottenham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Watford, Sunderland, Manchester City, Hull City, Swansea, Burnley and West Ham amongst those interested in Safe Standing areas, whilst he indicates Arsenal, Manchester United and West Brom are also keen to look at the potential re-introduction of standing areas.
For me it is a no-brainer and all the evidence from Germany and elsewhere is that these modern safe standing areas are positives in every way, including safety of supporters.
It will be a great day when/if we see standing areas back in the Leazes and Gallowgate ends.