United fans stand firm

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The Independent Online

Manchester United fans are angry over a proposal by the Football Licensing Authority to prevent standing at Premiership matches, which they believe is targeted them.

The FLA may reduce the ticket allocation for clubs whose supporters persistently refuse to sit down or ban them from away games completely. United's travelling fans have already had their allocation of tickets reduced for future games at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium because of persistent standing.

Nick Clay, the vice-chairman of the the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association, said United's own safety report concludes that fans are more likely to be stung by a wasp than get injured as a result of persistent standing at Old Trafford. He added that the wishes of Premiership supporters were being ignored and called for safe-standing areas.

"Instead of addressing the views of the supporters who want nothing more than allowing clubs to have the option of introducing safe standing-areas," Clay said, "the FLA appear to prefer imposing sanctions without apparent consultation with clubs or local licensing committees."

Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, the local authority for United's home turf, is carrying out its own risk-assessment study into standing at Old Trafford. The council said it would welcome a wider debate on the matter, which has been a problem for United supporters in recent seasons.

Councillor Barry Brotherton, who is the executive member for community safety, said: "I don't think what the FLA is proposing will work and we've got to look at this on a wider level rather than just forcing people to sit down."

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