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Government rejects West Brom’s safe standing application

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

West Bromwich Albion have had an application to pilot rail-seating technology at the Hawthorns rejected by the Government.

The Premier League club had asked the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for permission to install 3,600 rail-seats at the Hawthorns, in both the Smethwick End and parts of the away section.

However, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch rejected the application – a decision described as “short-sighted” by the club.

“It will certainly be disappointing for many, many supporters,” said Mark Miles, West Brom’s head of operations.

“I think the Minister has taken a short-sighted view and is preventing the club from creating a safer environment for supporters.

“The all-seater policy was developed over 25 years ago and football is a very different place now.”

West Brom’s application was supported by its local Safety Advisory Group and West Midlands Police. Despite the pilot being rejected, the club now say they will write back to DCMS requesting a review of the decision.

Head of the FSF’s safe standing campaign Peter Daykin praised West Bromwich Albion for consulting supporters and genuinely seeking to offer fans the choice between sitting and standing.

“The whole tenor of the debate on standing has changed massively in recent years,” Peter said. “So this is a really disappointing decision.

“West Brom have done brilliantly in seeking out a solution that is best for those supporters who want to stand and those who want to sit at The Hawthorns.

“They should be applauded for offering to test technology that has been proven to work so well at Celtic, around Europe and the rest of the world.”

Last year, Shrewsbury Town were given the green light to install rail seating at New Meadow by the Sports Ground Safety Authority. Results permitting, they could be facing West Brom in the Championship next season – with one club granted permission to install rail seating, while the other were denied.

Peter said: “Despite what the law thinks, standing at football is a reality.”

Thanks to Tony Hisgett for the image used in this article. Reproduced here under Creative Commons license.

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