Safe Standing – Yes Or No

Hello again all, how are we? This week’s piece I’ve decided to talk about is safe standing and whether fans would or would not like to see a return of it. It is been a widely discussed issue the last few weeks since Celtic have installed one at Celtic Park and one which has caused mixed emotions amongst reds.

Understandably we can all see why some fans do not want to see a return of standing areas in any ground not just Anfield, as we all know what happened at Hillsborough in 1989 and we wouldn’t want a catastrophe like that to happen again to any fan of any club, but I can’t help but think, what happened at Hillsborough was caused by a lack of seats or the fact that the Leppings Lane end was a standing terrace. Can it work? Can we have such a thing as safe standing?

Now I’m 32 years old and have a only have vague memories of standing onthe Kop as a kid, and as a kid it used to scare the shit out of me being there when the team where attacking and people rushed forward but as time went on I got used to it. As it is now the Kop, now all seated, is a great stand but is it as good as it was prior to seats replacing standing, is the atmosphere as good on the Kop now or in the ground in general prior the seats going in? I’d have to say no, the atmosphere is Anfield is garbage now and nothing compared to away games (where most fans stand all game) Some may disagree but that’s the beauty of opinions, we all have one and this ones mine.

Safe standing areas in stadia has been used all across Europe, most notably in Germany and has been very successful, so I want to know why we can’t introduce it back in the top flight in England, as long as it’s done properly.

Now I know this is touchy subject and if anyone reading this has been effected personally by Hillsborough I don’t mean to cause any offence whatsoever I’m just offering my 2 bobs worth. The demand for it is clearly there and for all to see, In 2011, the standard government reply to those writing to ministers and MPs stated:

Before any change in legislation there would have to be a very clear demand”

Polls of supporters repeatedly show a clear majority favouring the choice to stand, with an average of around 80% supporting the introduction of standing areas in the top divisions. In a poll (January 2009) 92% of 2,046 varied fans voted that fans should be given the choice to stand in safe standing areas. A similar survey in August 2012, showed that 91.1% of fans wanted the return or at least a choice in whether hey could stand and again in 2015 another showed that 96% of football fans in the UK backed a safe standing pilot to trial modern stadium technology.

Now I understand the argument against it, what about the elderly?, what about the disabled?, what about the younger fans? Lets be realistic, it’s not going to be all 4 stands of every stadium, it’s called a safe standing area, if your apprehensive about it then don’t go in it. Family members of those who passed away at Hillsborough have come out in the past week and spoken about it. Charlotte Hennessy who lost her dad Jimmy that faithful day is quoted in the Liverpool Echo as saying; “I do not support so-called safe standing. I don’t believe you can describe it like that. I’m not saying any other situation will be like Hillsborough, but you have to take into consideration the elderly, children, and disabled people – standing would not be safe for them. Introducing standing at matches would be going back in time, football has moved on since then. If my dad had a seat in Hillsborough on that day, he would not be dead. All-seater stadiums are the legacy of what happened in April 1989. Standing wasn’t safe before Hillsborough either, with deaths and injuries – but there have been none since all-seater stadiums were introduced.”

Another who has come out and spoke about the introduction of safe standing is Louise Brooke’s who like Charlotte lost a family member at Hillsborough. She said “The standing never killed anyone, it was the greed of the clubs, unsafe grounds, pens, and incompetence by certain people and organisations. And I also blame the football hooligans (indirectly) too. That’s what killed my brother. If standing kills then you would die in a supermarket queue. “If people did their jobs properly, the environment is structurely safe, then there should never be any deaths by standing. People forget…. people still stand at concerts and festivals”.

Safe standing has been introduced in Scotland it’s also in use in the lower leagues, will it make that jump into the Premier League? Time will tell, but I for one would like to see it return, as long as it’s done correctly and safely because at the end of the day, no one should goto a game an not come home. RIP the 96 X

Written by Chris Hurst (@ChrisHurst__)

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