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Standing areas have “positive impact” on safety – SGSA report

Safe standing at football grounds has had “a positive impact on spectator safety” and improved the matchday experience for thousands already, says an interim report from the SGSA.

Published at the weekend, the SGSA’s (Sports Ground Safety Authority) interim report on the five clubs who became early-adopters of standing areas in the Premier League and Championship is another important step for the standing campaign.

Since January, five clubs – Cardiff City, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – have been operating licensed standing areas in designated rail-seated and seated sections for home and away fans, as the Government works towards fulfilling its manifesto commitment on standing legislation.

The interim report by CFE Research, commissioned by the SGSA, has found that barriers and rails installed in front of seats made goal celebrations “more orderly” and overcrowding easier to spot.

It also found that entering and exiting rows and aisles was safer because of the “stability” offered by barriers. Researchers also found reduced conflict between stewards and supporters as staff no longer needed to encourage fans to sit down.

FSA standing campaign lead Peter Daykin said: “The interim report is uncontroversial and confirms what supporters have long argued: that standing can be managed safely.

“Everyone is happy with how the SGSA has made safety the number one priority. It’s been a positive process – we hope the programme will be expanded and more supporters will get to experience standing areas next season.”

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.

As the early adopters are proving successful, the expectation is legislation would be widened to cover all stadiums in England’s top two divisions within the next few years.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I’m pleased to say that the initial findings reported into “safe standing” at five early adopter football grounds are very encouraging.

“Signs are positive that the matchday experience is enhanced and fan safety is not only being maintained, but improved.”

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