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Should Safe Standing Areas return to English Football?

September 08, 2015

- Grant Whittington

In the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, inquests have continued in a bid to determine the truth about one of the most tragic days in the history of English football. Despite the tragedy that occurred on that spring day on 15th April, 1989, the British football authorities have attempted to learn from these events and create a safer environment for English fans around the country.

From the reports and assessments that followed, one of the most important decisions saw the removal of standing areas in major British football stadiums. Instead, clubs were forced to invest in all-seater stadiums, while the steel security fences that typically segregated fans from the edge of the pitch were removed.

The Return of Safe Standing areas: Why is it a talking Point?

While these measures were largely well-received at the time, perspectives and attitudes have changed among fans in the 26 years since. Although many blamed the lack of a fixed ground capacity and the rigid nature of the security fencing in the immediate wake of the tragedy, the negligence of on-duty police officers has since emerged as one of the primary contributing factors. Fans have also began to yearn for the return of ‘safe’ standing areas, with a recent report in the Daily Mirror claiming that 96% of supporters would welcome such a move.

This would essentially create a hybrid stadium, which consists of vast seating areas and small sections of terrace where fans could safely stand. While the FA are sure to listen to these pleas and consider them fairly, there is no indication that they will definitely proceed with such an important and emotive issues. There certainly remains a core demographic of fans that would oppose the integration of any standing areas, while the cost of restructuring stadiums and maintaining genuinely safe standing areas may also be prohibitive to clubs.

Will we see the Return of Standing Areas in the Premier League?

From a fans perspective, the return of standing areas would create an improved atmosphere at Premier League grounds around the country. It would also provide a platform for more expressive fans to congregate in the support of their team, although these subjective factors alone do not seem enough to influence such an important decision. So although we may see the return of safe standing areas in the future, for now it appears unlikely that the FA will act decisively to once again revolutionise British stadium.

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