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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links