Safe standing in the Premier League and Championship will now be debated in Parliament on 25 June.
This follows and excellent fan-led campaign and a successful petition to the UK government, which was signed by over 110,000 people.
If such a petition does gather 100,000 signatures or more, then it has to be considered for debate in Parliament.
This doesn’t mean that safe standing is likely to arrive any time soon in the Premier League (and Championship) but it is an important step in helping to push the campaign along, with a proper public debate ensuring that the overwhelming arguments in favour of it, are aired to more people, as well as hopefully convincing more politicians that this is something that their constituents want to happen.
Last month the Government announced there were no plans to change the all-seater policy, when rejecting West Brom’s bid to host a safe-standing trial.
The West Brom scheme would have meant 3,600 seats in the Smethwick End would have been converted to ‘rail seats’ – which can be locked in an upright position.
The whole thing is ridiculous and pretty much every match in the Premier League and Championship you see many supporters, especially away ones, standing in areas only designed for sitting, which is far more dangerous.
Bringing in safe standing would not be a return to the days of the terracing that older supporters remember, with crowd surges down the terracing, and far too many fans ending up in certain sections, leading to overcrowding and potential danger of harm.
In Germany the safe standing, especially the rail seats, have been used for years with no extra safety worries, Borussia Dortmund for example are the best supported club in Europe and they have massive terraces with fans standing safely.
I think fans also need to remember when deciding whether to support the idea, it is not a case of whether YOU want to stand personally – but rather that supporters should have the choice of whether to do so.
Many of us who used to love the terraces but wouldn’t fancy the idea of 30 or so years on standing for a couple of hours or more, should still back those who do want to do so. Especially younger fans who are desperate to experience better atmospheres in the top divisions once again.
Many clubs and prominent figures in football, such as Arsene Wenger, have fully supported the idea of safe standing, but Newcastle United have so far refused to do so, saying they are keeping a ‘neutral’ stance.
Scottish football operates under different laws/jurisdiction and a successful trial of safe standing at Celtic has already happened without any major negative issues.
Standing is allowed in League One and League Two and indeed the likes of Burton have had fans standing on three sides of the ground at Championship games these past two seasons, after being given special dispensation before having to put in all seats.
Standing is routinely allowed at Rugby League and Rugby Union matches, which will often have bigger crowds than many Championship clubs, or even the likes of Bournemouth in the Premier League.
Another inconsistency could see Shrewsbury promoted to the Championship this season and they already have bought rail seating which will be installed this summer, whilst West Brom could end up in the same division having been refused permission for even a trial.
If it was a case of returning to something similar to the old style terracing, in any way, then I think people raising concerns would have at least some credibility with objections.
However, using the rail seating is totally different and safe, much safer than the situation at the moment which is the reality, where tens of thousands of fans stand anyway in the top two divisions.