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32-year safe standing campaign finally wins!

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) was contacted last night by the Sports Ground Safety Association (SGSA), who told us that the option for football clubs to offer licensed standing at all levels of the game in England and Wales has at last been passed into official Government policy.

The SGSA has now announced steps to invite Premier League and Championship clubs to apply to offer standing areas from 1st January 2022, bringing to an end an FSA-led Safe Standing campaign that has lasted more than three decades.

The FSA has always argued that standing could be introduced – an argument backed by the overwhelming majority of supporters. There is a tradition of fans standing at games as it increases choice, improves atmospheres and ensures supporter safety when hosted in properly managed and licensed standing areas.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the FSA and longstanding Safe Standing campaigner, said: “We are beyond delighted to finally claim a win for the FSA’s Safe Standing campaign after extra time, penalties and more than a few replays and postponements.

“Today’s announcement is the result of prolonged and sustained campaigning by football fans – a victory for ordinary people with ordinary jobs who refused to accept the Taylor Report’s contention that standing could not be managed safely.

“It started in a pre-internet, pre-mobile phone world where running a campaign meant Sunday morning trips to social clubs in Altrincham, teleconferences, leafleting political gatherings in the rain and letter-writing; relentless letter-writing.

“More recently it has been very much a team effort, a sophisticated, co-ordinated partnership between the FSA, other fans and fans’ organisations, colleagues at the various football leagues and authorities, football clubs, MPs, civil servants, friendly journalists and more enlightened factions of the UK policing authorities. We’ve come a long way.

“Too many people to mention have worked tirelessly for so long to bring about today’s news. Those people know who they are and we look forward to having a well-deserved beer or two over the next few weeks and months. Who knows, we may even take in a match from a standing area.”

Pete Daykin, the co-ordinator of the FSA’s Safe Standing campaign, added:

Today’s announcement from the SGSA is an outbreak of common sense! It brings to an end a farcical situation in which fans at every ground continue to stand in their thousands – often to the detriment of those who can’t or don’t want to stand behind them – but that clubs can’t officially recognise or tackle in a constructive, proactive way.

“It also rights a historical wrong, breaking once and for all any suggestion of a link between ordinary football fans who prefer to stand and criminals, troublemakers and hooligans. It sounds preposterous to be saying it in 2021, but this was for so long the view of many of those in charge of running the game and the country, who neither understood football nor took the time to get to know its supporters. Today is a huge day for match-going fans.”

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