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Following the meeting of the clubs and the League officials, an all seating law was introduced in 1994. It was a direct response to the Hillsborough disaster that saw a tragic demise of 96 people and more than 750 injuries. Many lessons were learned from the disaster and the initiative to bring back standing on stadiums has been going on for quite a while now. Well, this past couple of days could prove to be crucial for the cause as clubs and League officials met to discuss the model for the implementation of safe standing.
So far, the best practice was introduced at Celtic Park. They introduced an entire segment with 2,900 standing capacity that features guard rails separating rows and making them safer.
The Football Supporters’ Federation is the main proponent for the re-introduction of standing on stadiums. Every poll conducted on the matter showed an overwhelming majority of the fans supporting the notion. It is stated that safe standing would improve the quality of the atmosphere at the stadiums and increase the engagement of the fans during the games. Clubs have been under tremendous pressure to push for the notion and develop a system in agreement with the League officials that would allow the re-introduction of the practice. Their argument is that most of the fans are already not using their seats for the better part of the game.
The rail seating model has shown to be effective on stadiums across Germany and following a successful conclusion of this season experiment on Celtic Park, the club officials promised to expand the practice on other parts of the stadium as well. A delegation of clubs from the Premier League is evaluating the model and if it proves to satisfy all the current safety guidelines, we can expect further talks regarding safe standing further down the season.
What is safe standing?
The rails seating implementation allows fans to use the foldable seats as they wish and to have more space while standing up, increasing their ability to move around and be more physical during the chants and celebrations. The rains between every row protects the fans from piling up and forming a crush similar to one on Hillsborough. Probably the biggest hurdle will be the uniformity of implementation for each club. There would have to be a certain rule-set that every stadium would have to follow, and then leave some wiggle room for them to make it possible to effectively implement it on their own grounds.
One thing is for sure; the League and the club officials cannot remain deaf to the demands of the fans because after all, the fans are what this game is all about, besides money of course.