Martin Hardy: Peterborough lead campaign to stand up for terracing

Life Beyond the Premier League

There's a strange old situation at Peterborough United. If manager Darren Ferguson can turn their season around – they have taken one point from the last eight games – and lead them from the foot of the Championship to safety, half of their ground will have to close.

If they fail to arrest the slump and fall into League One, the terraces behind each goal that give visiting supporters at London Road a vision of what watching football used to be about (not that long ago) will remain.

A promoted club into England's top two divisions has three seasons to make their ground all-seater. Peterborough, who went up in 2011, have plans for the hugely popular Moys End, where visiting fans stand (Middlesbrough's fans brought banners calling for its saving last season). A new stand will be built there, incorporating classrooms, sometime shortly.

But it is at the home end, on the London Road Terrace, that Peterborough are hoping to trial the new system that may change the way football is watched in this country. Chief executive Bob Symns went to Hannover to test the seating that is such a feature of the Bundesliga. There, the desire to create safe standing areas (or rail seats as he calls them) gives ends the versatility of being all-seater if the game is sanctioned by Uefa (currently not one of Peterborough's priorities, admittedly) or with the turn of an allen key, all standing, with a metal bar in the fans' own personal space, a little like your own barrier to lean on.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel's historic verdict has given oxygen to the suggestion that fans may stand again in this country. Officially. Therein lies much of Symns', and the Football Supporters' Federation's, safe standing argument. Fans are still standing in their numbers at games, in all-seater stadia.

"We have a national challenge of people standing in seated areas," he said. "I went to Hannover and had a good look. It just seems such a sensible option. You have to be very respectful of what happened at Hillsborough, which I am.

"I couldn't help be impressed by what I saw at Hannover. They give you safer standing than standing in a seating area. I spoke to our fans and we have to make our ground all-seater. They said they will stand in the new stand.

"My whole point is, let's trial it. I'm not saying we have to have it. Let's trial it. We're trialling goal-line technology, this seems a sensible time to do this as well. Let us pop these in at one end of our ground. You wouldn't have to travel to Germany to see how it works. You can invite the government, the FA and safety advisory groups to see it in action."

The FSF has led the way on this and has the support of Aston Villa and others for a trial. The meeting at Portcullis House in Westminster on Tuesday showed there is a growing audience for the possibility of change now that it has been proven, through the HIP report, that fans did not cause their own deaths at Hillsborough.

"It was quite a big step for the safe standing campaign," he added. "An expert in safety was there, senior match commanders were on board, as are our local police and safety officers. You can't make 1,000 people sit at once. Let's make it safer where they stand.

"As an individual, I want to sit. Potentially, we've reached a stage where you cannot get some sections of supporters to sit down. There is a safer way of managing it. We're not saying change the rules, we're saying trial it.

"It doesn't make a lot of difference financially. People say you'll get more in but that depends. There are different sizes. It is said to be 1.5 to 1.8 more people to each seat. They can be made as wide as you want so it may not be that different.

"They won't be cheap to put in. I'm talking about safety, and these are safer. That is the starting point."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test