Hillsborough group condemn standing proposals

Proposals to bring back standing areas at football grounds have been blasted by the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG).

The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) have launched an online petition calling for the return of standing areas in the top two divisions of English football.

The campaign already looks to be foundering however, with the HFSG and Premier League opposing the move, and the Government saying there has been no compelling case to bring back terraces.

Standing at matches in the top two divisions was banned following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, and HFSG chairman Margaret Aspinall told Press Association Sport: "The Hillsborough Family Support Group are totally against any form of standing whatsoever. We are absolutely against it and always will be.

"Our football clubs should remain all-seater stadiums.

"People always say they have standing areas in Germany but we don't play any part over what happens in that country - we just believe there's no such thing as safe standing in this country.

"We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law."

The issue of allowing some standing areas has been revisited a number of times since all-seater stadiums became compulsory in 1994. Kate Hoey tried to back a scheme when she was sports minister in 2001 but the then Government blocked it.

The FSF held a meeting on Monday with representatives from the police, Government and football authorities.

FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke argued that many fans already stand all match despite having seats, which is viewed as a safety risk.

Clarke said: "Fans do believe they have lost something in the move to all-seating. We will be doing further research to respond to the concerns of those who are not yet convinced."

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said he would examine the evidence for safe standing but played down any likelihood of a change to the law.

The first time that a significant accident or crowd trouble took place on a terrace would have major repercussions. Robertson told the meeting: "The minister's head would be on a spike on Tower Bridge before he could draft a resignation letter."

The FSF say safe standing areas can be convertible to and from seating to allow Champions League matches to be played in all-seater grounds.

They also argue that ticket prices for standing areas are lower than in seated areas.

The Premier League insist that all-seater stadia are safe and better for fans.

Premier League chief spokesman Dan Johnson told Press Association Sport: "Our view is that the benefits of all-seater stadia far outweigh the return of standing areas.

"They have led to more women and more children attending the games and no matter how safe standing can be made, seating is always safer.

"We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law."