Safe standing set for St James’ Park? Premier League given go ahead
It has been a long time coming but in just over four weeks time, it will be legal for Newcastle United to introduce safe standing areas at St James’ Park.
The Government have now given the go ahead for all clubs in the Premier League (and Championship) to introduce safe standing areas from the start of the 2022/23 season.
It is almost 30 years now since fans were legally allowed to stand at St James’ Park and many supporters will welcome the chance to do so, when it is introduced by Newcastle United.
Obviously there is a never ending list of challenges for the new Newcastle United owners to tackle after the 14+ years of neglect under Mike Ashley, however, surely only a matter of time before they incorporate safe standing areas at St James’ Park.
Guessing that at the very earliest this would be for the following (2023/24) season for NUFC, both to allow time to do the work inside the stadium and to give season ticket holders the option of staying in an area that is going to be turned into a safe standing one, or move to a normal seating area.
BBC Sport report:
‘Premier League and Championship clubs will be allowed to introduce safe standing areas from the start of the 2022-23 season.
Five clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City – took part in a government-commissioned ‘early adopters’ pilot study during the second half of 2021-22.
Brentford, QPR and Wolves will be the next clubs to join them in offering licensed standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans.
Other clubs are expected to follow suit during the new season.
Wembley Stadium will also offer a small licensed standing area for fans at domestic matches later in the season.
The stadiums were selected following an application process and strict conditions have been met, including enhanced use of CCTV, improved steward training and fans being strictly limited to ‘one person, one space’.
The necessary legislative amendments to the Football Spectators Act were tabled in Parliament on Monday.
“Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
“We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted.”
Rails in seated areas allowed fans to stand while their safety was independently assessed and in April an interim report by CFE Research, commissioned by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), said that safe standing had “a positive impact on spectator safety” and improved the matchday experience.
Then in May, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he was “minded” to allow stadiums to have licensed standing areas next season.
On 2 January, Stamford Bridge became the first top-flight ground to allow licensed standing in almost 30 years when Chelsea and Liverpool met in a 2-2 Premier League draw.
Designated standing areas had not been seen at Premier League grounds since the adoption of all-seater stadiums in the early 1990s – a recommendation of the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 97 fans died following a crush.
Spectators at many grounds have continued to stand in seated areas, most commonly behind the goals, despite regular warnings from local authorities and police that it is dangerous.
“Based upon what I have experienced and we have learnt through the pilot programme, safe standing is set to deliver an electric atmosphere at our football stadiums,” said Huddleston on Monday.
“Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters’ groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough disaster.”
Standing areas are commonplace in Germany’s Bundesliga and there are similar examples across the rest of Europe, the United States and Australia.’
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