Why clubs are keen to take a stand

There's a real desire around the grounds for safe standing. But will the authorities listen?

It was on Valentine's Day that representatives of 22 Championship clubs gathered in the Lineker Suite within Leicester City's King Power Stadium for one of their regular get-togethers. At item six on the agenda was a motion that read: "The Football League would encourage and support the instigation of a rail seat/safe-standing trial period at any League club wishing to run such a trial. This permission would only apply during a new build or stadium redevelopment." It was passed by 21 votes to one.

It is 23 years since, in the wake of the horrors of Hillsborough, the Taylor Report recommended all grounds in the top two tiers of English football should be all-seated; terracing, it concluded, was unsafe and a breeding ground for crowd disturbance.

It was a determination that helped propel the sea change Britain's favourite sport has undergone over the course of the last two decades. Today it is a different game, contested in markedly different stadiums, and the authorities, from Government to police to the Premier League and the Football League, see no reason to tinker with something that – to them at least – is working well.

Yet the Taylor report also called on the game to undertake "more consultation with the supporters and more positive leadership". Today there are two issues consistently raised by supporters. The first is the price of tickets, the second is a desire for a return to standing, and the two are connected. If the latter happens then the former will follow.

Some clubs are listening, and want to cater for their market – there is, of course, a basic commercial reasoning. The swell in support for at least allowing trials of standing areas has quickened over the last couple of years and while there is an expanding number of clubs in the top flight that are broadly supportive, it is at Championship level that it has struck a particular chord.

"The clubs deserve a huge amount of credit for approaching safe standing with an open mind," said Peter Daykin of the Football Supporters' Federation, which is campaigning for safe standing. "More and more people in the football industry realise it's the solution to problems caused by existing legislation and it could certainly enhance fans' match days.

"Six Premier League sides, 16 Football League clubs and the Scottish Premier League already back the campaign, so it's great to hear that Championship clubs back safe standing too. And there's no doubt whatsoever that fans back safe standing."

The FSF runs a roadshow to demonstrate how today's version of terracing – a word the FSF studiously seeks to avoid, given its negative historic links – works. The organisation also sought advice from German counterparts and Bundesliga clubs. Last weekend a group of FSF members were in Dortmund to experience Borussia's 25,000 capacity standing area.

There is minimal chance of such a banking ever being introduced here. Rather, if the required change in law comes about, it would be small sections of rail seating. Aston Villa, the first Premier League club to come out in support, have earmarked a corner of one end for a trial and it is likely clubs would look to have limited shelves within stadiums to accommodate those who wish to stand.

The German model is simple. Each row has a stomach- or chest-high railing, which includes a flip seat that when in use meets Uefa requirements for all-seated stadiums. It is cheap to install, either in a stadium being developed or even in an already built venue. A Championship chief executive whose club play in a modern, all-seated ground told The Independent the club would look to install safe standing were it given the go-ahead. "It won't happen next year," he said, "but give it a few years."

There is due acknowledgement and absolute respect from clubs pushing for trials towards Hillsborough, the family support groups and the on-going issues surrounding the 1989 disaster, but, claim campaigners, this is an utterly different world to the crumbling one of Leppings Lane.

There are other opponents outside Liverpool, notably the Premier League. Despite moves from MPs to push the issue in Parliament, the Government remains opposed to changing the law. Although not absolutely – there is wriggle room. Hugh Robertson, the Sports Minister, has not in the past shied from picking a fight with football, but with the police – with creeping regional exceptions, such as in the West Midlands – set staunchly against he will need some persuading.

The Premier League points simply to increased attendances in the top flight and the increased mix in crowds – the number of women going to games has risen steeply. If it ain't broke…

The number of clubs in the top flight who favour safe standing will rise by three as of next season, but the Premier League is not for changing – a stance the Football League is well aware of. The two Leagues have had recent disagreements over "solidarity" payments – there remains deep-seated unease in the Championship, and below, over the skewing of the playing field by ever-increasing parachute payments.

Some of those pushing for safe standing fear the Football League is picking its battles, and taking on one that would pitch it against steadfast, and powerful, opponents is not high on the to-do list.

"Is there the appetite in the Football League to go and have a disagreement with Government?" wondered a Championship chief executive.

Another was more forthright. "They don't have the balls," he said with a degree of exasperation. "We are not asking to go back to terracing. This is safe. We are only asking for a pilot."

Standing backers: Clubs in favour

Premier League

Aston Villa have volunteered to host safe-standing trials, while Swansea and Sunderland have spoken in favour. Newcastle are also in favour of a trial. West Ham have suggested a safe-standing area in the Olympic stadium.

All three promoted clubs from the Championship back safe standing: Cardiff City, Hull City and either Crystal Palace or Watford

Football League

Peterborough and Bristol City have been enthusiastic supporters. Today Portsmouth became the latest club to support trials.

Aldershot, Barnsley, Brentford, Burnley, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Exeter City, Leeds United, Oldham, Plymouth, Shrewsbury, Swindon, Wolves and AFC Wimbledon have also spoken publicly in favour of trials. Twenty-one Championship clubs voted in favour of trials in February, two were absent and one voted against.

Scottish Premier League

Celtic and Aberdeen have discussed staging a trial. The SPL relaxed its rules two years ago but still needs agreement of police and licensing authorities. Standing is not banned in Scotland's top tier as in England.

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
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.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried