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Confirmed safe standing areas to be introduced in this 2021/22 Premier League season – Agreement reached

3 weeks ago
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Just over three weeks ago, the Government confirmed that before the end of the 2021/22 season, we would see safe standing areas introduced in the Premier League.

Henry Winter of The Times was interviewing Oliver Dowden, the then Culture Secretary of State, where Winter quizzed him on both safe standing and the Newcastle United takover (see below).

Dowden confirming on safe standing: ‘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.’

Now there has been another update on Wednesday (22 September 2021) regarding the subject of safe standing, the exclusive once again from The Times.

Their Chief Sports Reporter, Martyn Ziegler, has revealed that The FA, Premier League and EFL have all agreed that safe standing is to be permitted, if agreed by local authorities.

The Times say that now the agreement above has been formally reached, the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) is now going to invite expressions of interest from clubs in the top two divisions to have pilots of safe standing this season.

The report names Tottenham, Wolves, Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Cardiff and Bristol City among the clubs whose stadiums would be able to accommodate safe standing areas the easiest.

The Times pointing out that the recently constructed Tottenham stadium was built with a large section of safe seating and will almost certainly be involved in any pilot.

No surprise to see no mention of Newcastle United in any of this, the idea of Mike Ashley doing anything purely for the benefit of NUFC fans rather than himself, a very alien concept.

The Conservatives had promised in their 2019 general election manifesto to work towards the introduction of safe standing areas but the covid issues meant the idea was pushed back.

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 admitted last month, 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.

Still, at least a small but significant step forward with today’s news, although exactly when Newcastle fans might ever benefit, is anybody’s guess.

Oliver Dowden on safe standing when interviewed by Henry Winter for The Times – 28 August 2021:

“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.”

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