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Government confirm safe standing set to start in Premier League this season

4 weeks ago
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Not surprisingly, the subject of safe standing slipped down the list of priorities for fans of Premier League clubs these past 18 months or so.

With supporters not even having any idea of when they might be allowed back into stadiums, whether they’d be sitting or standing was a moot point.

However, now with some kind of normality returning, including wholesale reopening of capacities at football grounds, things that were of importance to football fans pre-pandemic are now back up for debate.

Henry Winter is Chief Football Writer at The Times and has now interviewed Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In his excellent far reaching interview with Oliver Dowden, Henry Winter quizzed him on all kinds of subjects relating to Premier League (and other leagues) football.

A few snippets from the interview below, with Oliver Dowden giving the usual Government response on the Newcastle United takeover when asked.

Dowden also reinforces the Government stance that has led to Premier League clubs collectively refusing to allow some 60 players (including Miguel Almiron) to turn out for their countries this next fortnight, due to no exemption from quarantine for players returning to the UK after having played in ‘red list’ countries.

However, when it came to the subject of safe standing, Oliver Dowden did come up with the goods.

The Secretary of State happy to be quoted in saying: ‘We’re engaging with the police and others but we’ll get to the stage this season where we’ll see safe-standing, at least in pilot form.’

This has been a long time coming, the designs of stadiums now are far different to what we had back in the 1980s and beyond. It has become a political issue rather than a safety issue and as Oliver Dowden admits, many fans already stand throughout matches, especially away supporters, which is in seated areas that make it far more dangerous than if they were in safe standing areas.

It sums up how far things are lagging behind in England / Premier League, when you factor in that Celtic were given permission in 2015 to trial safe standing and after successful trials north of the border, all clubs now in Scotland are allowed to put in place safe standing areas.

This is without even acknowledging the fact that in the Bundesliga they have huge areas of fans safe standing and helping to create brilliant atmospheres across the German league.

Oliver Dowden on safe standing when interviewed by Henry Winter for The Times:

“It’s the sensible thing to do because fans are standing all the way through [games] anyway and you can do it in a safer way.

“We’ve got terrible experience in the past and more recent experience with things like the Euros, which just means we need to make sure we get this right.

“We’re engaging with the police and others but we’ll get to the stage this season where we’ll see safe-standing, at least in pilot form.”

Henry Winter also asked Oliver Dowden about the Newcastle United takeover situation:

Dowden was a mixture of diplomacy and disappointment about the Premier League’s slow process in deciding whether the Saudi takeover of Newcastle should go through. “The Premier League had its fit and proper persons test and they’re going through that. I want them to get on with it. They need to do it quickly and transparently. They should have done it quicker, yes.”

Henry Winter when raising the subject of this upcoming international fortnight where Premier League clubs are refusing to allow some 60 players to travel, due to no exemption from quarantine on return from playing in ‘red list’ countries:

‘He was adamant that the government would not give players special exemption to avoid quarantine after visiting red-list countries for the World Cup qualifiers. “The No 1 thing has to be protection of public health,” Dowden said.’

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