As reported in the latest edition of the FSF’s magazine, The Football Supporter (tfs 016), there has been some controversy surrounding the Football Licensing Authority and their use of statistics. The FSF is delighted that the FLA are now engaging in meaningful and constructive dialogue with us on this subject. Nevertheless, we have decided to publish the following information for members and interested parties… largely because we said we would!
In partnership with fans’ group Stand Up Sit Down (SUSD), the FSF have been amongst a body of match-goers calling for an evidence-based discussion about the safety of standing at football grounds.
On 11th February this year SUSD’s Chris Nash prepared a report investigating the FLA’s use of statistics in their contention that sitting is safer than standing at football.
In association with the FSF this report was submitted to John De Quidt, Chief Executive of the Football Licensing Authority (FLA), whose job it is to enforce legislation on standing in football grounds.
The report questioned the validity of the use of FLA’s statistics in their assertions that standing at football is fundamentally unsafe – Chris had taken the unusual step of analysing figures that the FLA were quoting, and found them to be flawed.
When acknowledgement from the FLA was not forthcoming, FSF a FSF Chair Malcolm Clarke contacted Sir Michael Scholar, chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), a body established to ensure that facts and figures being quoted by government organisations stacked up.
The UKSA, in their reply of 21st May, understood the FSF’s concerns that these statistics were being used to set government policy, and in reply wrote to the FLA as well.
Many FSF members felt the subsequent reply from John de Quidt was both insulting to the Federation and a failure to address our concerns.
The FLA has now responded to the initial FSF report, in which they state that they agree their injury statistics do not provide firm evidence that standing is less safe than seating.
We are encouraged by the latest developments in this issue and hope that it represents a full and frank, evidence-led discussion on standing in football stadia.
As ever, we’ll endeavour to keep members up to date on the latest news with regard to our safe standing campaign, and the valuable contribution and support of our friends at SUSD.