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Fans at Arsenal and Villa say “yes” to safe standing

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Fans at both Arsenal and Aston Villa have given their overwhelming backing to safe standing in two separate fan-led surveys. 97.5% of Villa fans backed safe standing while 91.5% of respondents to Arsenal’s Black Scarf Movement survey said they’d like a safe standing trial at the Emirates.

Villa’s survey was organised by AVST member Anne-Marie Fern and aimed to identify the level of support for safe standing at Villa Park and the reasons for any opposition. AVST are affiliated members of the FSF.

Holte Ender Anne-Marie said: “I know the club feel this survey has been beneficial and proves what they already suspected – Villa fans want safe standing. The level of support for it is incredible really.”

The response was hugely supportive with only 2.5% against the idea of a safe standing area at Villa Park. The main opposition reasons cited were fears of “crowd crushing” or “a return to hooliganism”.

Those in favour said they believed it would improve stadium atmosphere and that there was sufficient technology in place to monitor standing areas and ensure crowd safety.

In total 974 supporters completed the survey, almost half were season ticket holders and 6% female. The results were hailed by the club as “the most definitive indication to date of a clear desire” for safe standing at Villa Park.

Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive at Aston Villa, said: “The concept of giving fans the choice to decide to either sit or stand at a game is one we support and we support the FSF in their endeavours to establish a consensus which can gain wider support within the football community.”

Black Scarf Movement: Gooners want safe standing

But Villa’s isn’t the only fan-driven survey this week. Arsenal’s Black Scarf Movement was set up in 2009 and campaigns around areas like ticket prices and improving atmosphere.

Black Scarf Movement’s survey has been completed by a whopping 17,000 respondents with 91.5% saying “yes” to a trial of safe standing at the Emirates Stadium.

The Black Scarf Movement said: “This is, without any shadow of a doubt, clear indication that Arsenal fans are fully behind the concept of introducing safe standing at Emirates Stadium.

“The recent successes of German football clubs and the highlighting of how highly fans are considered by Bundesliga clubs has only made the issue in England a lot more visible.

“Arsene Wenger gave his backing to the introduction of safe standing, and we understand that Ivan Gazidis is in favour too.

“Arsenal’s marketing motto in recent years has been ‘Always ahead of the game’. In that case we’d like the club to practice what it preaches and be a lot more proactive on this subject, especially considering the support from our Manager and Chief Executive.”

Want to support safe standing?

There can be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of fans back safe standing, survey after national survey backs that, as do club-specific ones from Arsenal, Aston Villa and, earlier this year, fans at Spurs.

Hats off to all fans involved in organising these surveys, this is a great way for fans to back the Safe Standing Campaign and we’d encourage fans at clubs across England and Wales to replicate this work.

  • If you’d like to find out how other fans have done that, or know of surveys we’ve missed, pop us an email to safestanding@fsf.org.uk.

Picture (left to right) – Michael Brunskill, the FSF; Paul Faulkner, Aston Villa; Anne-Marie Fern, AVST; Lee Preece, Aston Villa.

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