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Government announces first round of new standing areas at five clubs

Cardiff City, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will be the first clubs to have licensed ‘safe standing’ in seated areas from January 1st the sports minister announced today.

The five clubs will be the first in the top two tiers of football in England and Wales to allow standing in nearly 30 years – the FSA has always argued that standing could be introduced – an argument backed by the overwhelming majority of supporters.

We’ve long argued 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.

Today’s historic announcement is a step by the Government towards delivering their manifesto commitment to introduce standing areas at all-seater grounds.

The five grounds have been selected following an application process, open to all grounds covered by the all-seater policy, led by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “The time is now right to properly trial safe standing in the Premier League and EFL Championship ahead of a decision on a widespread roll-out.

“Fans deserve different options on how they can enjoy a live match and I will be watching the progress of these trials with interest.”

Over the last 18 months the SGSA has been gathering evidence on standing areas and has concluded that standing is no less safe than seating where managed properly. If the initial trials prove successful, the expectation is legislation would be widened out to cover all stadiums in England’s top two divisions within the next few years.

Chief Executive of the SGSA, Martyn Henderson, said: “Today’s announcement will enable us to properly test and evaluate licensed standing areas and advise the Government in its next steps.

“We are taking a careful, evidence-based approach to this historic change, again using independent researchers to evaluate any lessons to be learnt.”

The clubs applying for new standing areas had to meet strict criteria set out by the SGSA, including:

  • The necessary infrastructure being in place before 1 January 2022 – such as seats with barriers/independent barriers – which must be in both home and away sections.
  • The seats cannot be locked in the ‘up’ or ‘down’ position, allowing fans the option of being able to sit (for example, during breaks in play).
  • There must also be one seat/space per person.
  • The licensed standing areas must not impact the viewing standards or other fans, including disabled fans.
  • There must be a Code of Conduct in place for fans in the licensed standing area.
  • Briefing and training must be in place for staff and stewards to ensure only relevant ticketholders are admitted to the licensed standing areas.
  • CCTV must be in place and offer full coverage of the licensed standing areas.
  • The ground must consult with its Safety Advisory Group about plans for the licensed standing areas.

Over the remainder of the season, research will be carried out at the grounds by CFE Research, to evaluate the implementation of licensed standing areas at early adopter grounds. This research will be provided to Government to inform its decisions about the potential wider roll-out of licensed standing from the start of next season.

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said: “This is another victory for supporters who have long argued that standing can be managed safely. We congratulate those five clubs for stepping up and offering their supporters real choice in how they watch football.

“The safety and customer care questions have been answered. Fans only ever wanted choice in how they watch football and thanks to their efforts, finally, they will soon have that choice.”

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