Return of standing areas in football grounds- expert comments

After the recent announcement by Sport Ground Safety Authority on the return of standing areas to top-flight football grounds, The University of Manchester's Professor Geoff Pearson - who led the study which informed the decision - has provided the following reaction statement.

The research underpinning the decision can be found here.  

"The Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster recommended that terracing at elite football should be replaced by all-seater stadia, and from 1994 clubs in the Premier League and Championship have not been permitted to have standing areas. While welcomed at the time by most stakeholders, the recommendation was not uncontroversial as it was not the terracing that had directly led to the fatalities at Hillsborough, but a combination of policing failures and the existence of high perimeter fencing that trapped the fans in the crush that occurred.

"The study into standing at football came after a review of evidence commissioned by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority identified a high prevalence of persistent standing in ‘all-seater’ stadia, regular instances of migration and over-crowding, and also possible risks from this of conflict, progressive crowd collapse, and spectator injury. This study investigated different measures undertaken by clubs to manage areas where persistent standing took place, including some new sections of ‘rail seating’. The report identified that rail seating prevented the risk of progressive crowd collapse, reduced the risk of injury to spectators, and prevented conflict between fans and fans and stewards. Furthermore, it identified no evidence of an increased risk of disorder or criminality.

"The report showed that ‘rail seating’ has positive benefits for spectator safety, and will lead to more of this accommodation being introduced in areas where persistent standing takes place. More significantly, the report opened the door for a change to the law to allow the licensing of standing in rail seating areas – ‘safe standing’ - for the first time in the top two tiers of football in the UK since 1994."

To find out more read the Guardian news article.

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