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Opinion

Shocking decision as Government block Premier League safe standing trial

1 year ago
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Many football fans will find it very disappointing that the Government have now blocked a trial of safe standing by a Premier League club.

The Bundesliga of course has massive crowds using safe standing every league match, whilst Celtic introduced a trial last season which proved a great success.

Atmospheres are generally poor at the higher levels in England, especially the Premier League – when compared to how many supporters attend games.

Many fans seeing safe standing as the logical way of helping to significantly improving those atmospheres, as well as once again giving fans the choice of sitting or standing.

Premier League outfit West Brom (soon to be Championship…) had offered to be the one to run a trial in England – but on Monday it has been revealed that the government as blocked the idea.

Crazy really, especially when so many fans, especially away supporters, stand every week in areas that are far less safe for standing than the safe standing areas used in Germany and the trial at Celtic.

West Brom Official Statement:

ALBION’s hopes of introducing a safe standing section at The Hawthorns have been rejected by the Government.

The Baggies had offered to run a pilot scheme in the Smethwick End for both home and away fans and made a formal application in October 2017 to install the section this summer in readiness for the 2018/19 campaign.

But Tracey Crouch MP, the Minister for Sport, has ruled out the idea confirming there are no plans to change the all-seater policy at football stadia.

The decision has been described as both “surprising” and “disappointing” by the man who has led Albion’s initiative, Director of Operations Mark Miles, who has written back to the Sports Grounds Safety Authority urging a review.

After lengthy research into the safe-standing option, Mark had proposed to install “rail-seating” across the Smethwick in the belief that it would be safer for fans in a section of the stadium where persistent standing is a problem.

He took in visits to Celtic Park and the Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, where the same system is used successfully, and received encouragement from across the football industry to pursue the proposal.

“I find the decision from the Minister of Sport both surprising and disappointing,” he said.

“It will certainly be disappointing for many, many supporters I have spoken to who were in favour of what we were proposing.

“It has also been a regular topic of discussion at our Albion Assembly meetings where the members support has been clear.”

He said the Albion’s proposal did not seek to introduce additional standing at The Hawthorns but to manage that which was already taking place.

Mark added: “I think the Minister has taken a short-sighted view and is preventing the club from creating a safer environment for supporters. The all-seater policy was developed over 25 years ago and football is a very different place now.

“The system we proposed is well-tested across Europe and has also worked successfully at Celtic, who are governed by different legislation than in England and Wales. We were prepared to run a pilot which would enable the Club to gather data and feedback to further inform us in the issue of crowd safety.

“But I have become convinced that rail-seating would enhance safety. The Club is extremely disappointed with this decision and we have written back requesting a review.”
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