Lib Dems back safe standing
Posted on 15th September 2008
The Liberal Democrats’ yesterday gave their backing to safe standing following a vote at their annual conference.
The news is a welcome boost for the safe standing campaign and represents a significant step as this is the first time a mainstream political party have backed safe standing at football matches.
Fans’ across the country will now be hoping that other parties, and the Football Licensing Authority (FLA), listen to fans – 92 per cent of whom back safe standing – and give those who attend games the choice of whether to sit or stand.
One of the key issues in the debate, which is often overlooked, is that safe standing is not just for those who wish to stand, but also for those who choose to sit and watch football without having their view obstructed. Many have their enjoyment spoiled by those who do wish to stand.
“This is a sensitive issue”, said Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster.
“But we cannot ignore the large numbers of fans who want to stand, and are doing so in seating areas, despite the existing regulations and the danger it causes.
“Given the seeming impossibility of policing existing regulation and recognising that some passionate fans want to be able to jump up and down when watching their teams each week then we need to look at technologies that allow them to do that safely.
In what could be a watershed in the campaign for safe standing the weekend also saw, alongside the Liberal Democrats’ decision, the Eurostand 2008 campaign – with fans from 14 different countries coming together to back standing – and demonstrations around the UK.
Portsmouth Independent Supporters’ Association (PISA) were amongst the most prominent protestors with Pompey fans marching in support of safe standing.
Football Supporters’ Federation Chair Malcolm Clarke said: “The FSF congratulate the Liberal Democrats’ decision to back safe standing and would encourage all political parties to follow suit.
“When nine out of every 10 fans want the option to stand, it’s something that should be provided. Standing still occurs in the lower divisions, and the government acknowledges it is not inherently unsafe.
“Give fans the choice.”