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Bangor City: Fans should be given choice on safe standing

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Our Safe Standing roadshow arrived at Bangor City’s Book People Stadium recently and fans at the Welsh club responded positively to the technology. Jonathan Ervine tells us more…

When I moved to Bangor in 2007, my football watching experiences changed. As I became an avid follower of Bangor City, I was able to stand at the majority of football matches that I attended. This was something that I hadn’t been used to doing since the early 1990s.

In some ways, you might be wondering why then it is that Bangor City are showing a really strong interest in potentially becoming the first football club in Britain to introduce safe standing in their home ground.

The Book People Stadium in Nantporth is a new stadium that Bangor City moved to in early 2012 and it has hosted Europa League matches as well as international matches involving the Wales under-21s men’s team, a full international involving the Wales women’s team and many other youth, colleges and schools internationals.

Supporters are not allowed to stand at many of these types of European and international games, so it is clear that the club has something to gain from bringing in the rail seating that is part of what is known as safe-standing.

At a Safe standing Roadshow event that Bangor City hosted on Friday 13th March, there was considerable interest from supporters, club officials, local politicians and the media. Indeed, the event was the main story discussed on BBC Radio Cymru’s Saturday morning football show Ar y Marc the following day.

Last Friday’s event gave those present the opportunity to see what rail seats look like and hear about the benefits of safe standing from John Darch of the Safe Standing Roadshow. Darch argued that Bangor are “quite unique in that they can obviously provide their spectators with the choice of standing if they want to”.

Fans were also enthused by the prospect of safe standing. Supporters’ Association chairman Les Pegler talked of how safe standing could provide “the best of both worlds” by giving fans the covered terrace that they desired, and also an area that could be easily converted to seating for European games. Fellow fan Mike Ishmael said that such a step could “be the start of creating more atmosphere in the ground”.

Former Welsh Assembly Sports Minister Alan Pugh also saw the benefits of safe standing. He was of the opinion that “the simple fact is that many fans just culturally prefer to stand at a football match”, and argued that “it’s a question of choice and I think that fans should be given that choice”. Similar sentiments were echoed by Aled Roberts, a Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for North Wales. Roberts talked of his hope that the Welsh Assembly will be granted greater power to legislate on matters such as stadium safety in the coming months and said that this could provide a means for Wales to take the lead in introducing safe standing.

As ground improvements continue at Bangor City’s Book People Stadium, chairman Dilwyn Jones sees the introduction of safe standing behind the goals as a “golden opportunity” for the team. Famous for their European games against Napoli in 1962 and Atletico Madrid in 1985, safe standing could help Bangor City to host more of football’s big names in North Wales.

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

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