Leading article: Civilised standing

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Going to the match could be about to get more rigorous, less staid and more fun. Twenty years after Lord Justice Taylor ushered in a new age of football, by recommending all-seater stadiums, the option to stand could be on the way back.

The arguments against are well known, summed up in the single word, Hillsborough. But, as Don Foster argues in The Independent today, that disaster was a result less of standing than of overcrowding and neglect. Safe standing areas, as common in Germany, have barriers between the rows and often flip-down seats as well. This is the modern way to go.

Contrary to expectations, British fans have never quite reconciled themselves to all-seater stadiums. For many, comfort takes second place to atmosphere and even a full stadium can seem somehow sanitised. There is also price. The cost of tickets to a Premier League match can rival that of a night at the opera; many fans have reluctantly found other things to do on match days. The return of some standing space should allow for more and cheaper tickets.

Many clubs object that new modifications would be too expensive, but nine out of 10 fans are in favour, and they are right. Let the clubs bring back standing room – in good time for England not to be hosting the World Cup.

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