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The future of standing at Sunderland: A young fan’s view

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Standing is a hot topic at the moment and its popularity continues to grow. But what do young fans think? Sunderland fan Luke Rose went along to the Stadium of the Light to talk to the club about the future of standing on Wearside…

Safe Standing is an idea Sunderland fans have wanted implemented for a long time. I’m a 15-year-old Sunderland supporter who is for safe standing but has never experienced a standing stadium. 

I believe there is no valid argument to say that safe standing is a bad idea and that the law should be changed to allow safe standing in stadiums.

I recently spoke with Chris Waters, Sunderland’s Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO), to get his and the club’s opinion on whether safe standing was a good idea and if it should be eventually introduced into the Stadium of Light.

When asked if the club was for safe standing, Chris claimed that the club would definitely consider safe standing and if the law were to be changed then the club would give it a go, adding that the new owners of the club, Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven, would love to see safe standing within the Stadium of Light.

We asked Chris about the safety of the rail seats, and if they are actually as safe as people say in his opinion. He said that he does believe they are safe because of the fact that with rail seats, you have allocated space and you have the choice to sit if you would like. The fact that supporters would have their own allocated space means that there wouldn’t be any disasters happen, like we have seen in the past when standing wasn’t so safe, and people didn’t have their allocated space.

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Currently, the away fans are far away in the top-tier (Premier Concourse), and are not allowed to stand, with stewards checking every fifteen minutes for standing supporters. In my opinion, this reduces the great atmosphere that the Stadium of Light is renowned for as the home and away fans don’t have the opportunity to have that back-and-forth and try to out sing each other.

Away fans are so far away that you can barely hear them. They should be moved pitchside – especially given home fans have nothing to get excited about, with the lack of any real football on the pitch in the last few seasons. It’s clear to see why the atmosphere has not been as good as normal in the last few seasons at the Stadium of Light.

The introduction of safe standing would mean a section of fans would be on their feet the whole game, hopefully singing Sunderland’s famous songs and getting behind the players, creating an intimidating environment for both the opposition fans and team while giving the Sunderland players a well needed boost on the pitch.

If the law were to change and Sunderland were to introduce safe standing into the stadium, Chris believes that the best place for it would be what is currently called the south stand, as this is where most of the noise comes from anyway.

The only concern Chris says he has with safe standing is that it could restrict the view of people who may be disabled or not able to stand. But this is that can be very easily solved: the people who would not be able to stand could easily be given seats near the front, or given tickets in another area of the ground where people don’t tend to stand.

Chris also told us that the club have agreed to trial safe standing in the Stadium of Light, if and when the law changes. We can see from this that the club are making moves to implement safe standing and give the fans what they want as soon as the law changes to make it possible.

Both Sunderland fans and owners are hopeful that the law will be changed so that we can bring back the atmosphere of the Stadium of Light through safe standing, and hopefully bring back some good football as well.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this blog.

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