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Safe Standing, my report. Please critique. Many thanks


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Should standing return to England’s top division?

Since the Taylor report was produced in response the Hillsborough disaster in the late 1980’s, the option to buy a standing ticket no longer exists. However, this does not mean that you can sit comfortably everywhere for 90minutes on an English match day if you expect a good view of the game. Fans have never really taken to seating, and there is always a continual battle between safety stewards asking fans to take their seats during a game, and the passionate fan wanting to stand and cheer on the team they adore. Usually fans will realise that the stewards are just doing their jobs, and one by one take their seat. Then comes the inevitable chant of ‘stand up if you hate…’ and the battle starts all over. So over twenty years on from the production of the Taylor report, and in a very different world of football and safety measures, is there still a need for stadiums to ban fans from standing?

The reason that standing areas were banned is to stop crowds from crushing, and if you’ve ever experienced a surge of fans forward on terraces when you’re team scores a goal, this is a very scary prospect. Unfortunately that prospect became reality for Liverpool supporters in an FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest. Regardless of what has happens on a football field, and the emotions that a fan goes through on match day, one thing that should never be a concern to someone spending their hard earned cash to see their team is their safety. So the Taylor report has provided for a lot of fans peace of mind that these concerns are fully taken care of by the clubs and safety officers.

However, as time has passed, many fans are now calling for standing areas to return. With atmospheres in grounds becoming more sombre and record high ticket prices in a struggling economic climate, attendances across the board are dwindling. The fans have given a call to change, and it seems that clubs will be keen to listen to ideas on how to bring those fans staying at home back into the stadium. Standing terraces can still be found in stadiums around the country without cause for concern in lower divisions, with Peterborough United of the Championship being the highest ranked English team still to offer this option. The Hillsborough report doesn’t blame standing for the tragedy, but the control measures put in place, the pens that existed on Lepping lane, and overall, the fact that ‘the maximum capacity for the terrace was significantly exceeded[url=http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/index.php?app=forums&module=post&section=post&do=new_post&f=7#_ftn1][1]’. In a world where many clubs have automated turnstiles that prevent unofficial tickets gaining entry, it would seem that now exceeding capacity is impossible.

Safety of the fans will always be the main focus, and ways to reintroduce standing in a safe way have been explored. Some German clubs in the Bundesliga offer coach style standing, with safety barriers between rows of fans, and pull down seats an option for European events. This seems to be a safer option even than the all seating approach provides, as those fans that want to stand in certain areas inevitably do, and without proper safety in place to accommodate this, fans can be more at risk. On top of this, theses tickets can be obtained for the coming match at Borussia Dortmund for as little as €17. When comparing to the £62 that Manchester City fans paid at the Emirates on Sunday, it seems that pricing of tickets are worlds apart. This can never been attributed solely to the areas being seated or standing, and the difference in worldwide interest in the Bundesliga and Premier league spells out some of the reasons between the price differences. However, the Taylor reports statement that prices of seating areas ‘should not increase significantly’[url=http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/index.php?app=forums&module=post&section=post&do=new_post&f=7#_ftn2][2] has completely gone out of the window in the twenty years since the report.

It is reported that around 11 clubs in the top two divisions are backing the return of standing in some shape or form, and trials for the idea are currently being proposed by clubs such as Aston Villa and Derby County. It will be interesting to see whether the idea will prove successful and whether a standing option could ever be brought back into English football. It has to be said that with all the research that has gone into standing areas, the greatest risk perhaps of reintroducing standing to football is now to the reputation of the FA. If ever even the slightest problem occurs, they will need to explain to the world why they overruled the advice of a report that was produced following one of the most mediated sporting disasters in the world.

[url=http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/index.php?app=forums&module=post&section=post&do=new_post&f=7#_ftnref1][1] Hillsborough, The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, Sept 2012

[url=http://www.dcfcfans.co.uk/index.php?app=forums&module=post&section=post&do=new_post&f=7#_ftnref2][2] Inquiry into the Hillsborough stadium disaster, The National archives, Kew, 1989-1990

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