This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.
One of the challenges for the Safe Standing Campaign is to educate our fellow fans, football industry folk and politicians. They say a picture paints a thousand words and the images below show that safe standing does not mean a return to the dark days of the 80s with vast, crumbling terraces and lethal fences (read more in Safe Standing Mythbusters). Modern technology and methods mean safe standing areas are just that – safe. Find out more below.
Above left – safe standing rail seats in Hannover (Germany).
Below left – Rail seats in Klagenfurt (Austria).
Below right – Bob Symns (chief executive, Peterborough United – middle row, centre) and representatives of Peterborough City Council with Jon Darch (Safe Standing Roadshow) and Hannover 96 staff among rail seats in the AWD Arena (Germany).
In European countries such as Germany, Sweden and Austria, safe standing areas are permitted in top-flight football. Many grounds also host matches in UEFA/FIFA competitions when standing areas are not permitted.
A number of technologies have been developed to allow for stands to be easily converted from standing to seating and back again, where required on a temporary basis. This can happen several times a season with minimal fuss.
Models used in Germany:
1. Rail seats e.g. Hoffenheim (right, seats secured in ‘upright’ position)
This is the design which most supporters mean when they say safe standing. It’s the key design as far as the FSF’s concerned and the one that clubs seem most likely to adopt. There is a safety barrier and a seat on every row (or two). The seats are locked into an upright position for domestic games and supporters stand between the barriers. For European games, the seats are simply unlocked.
2. Clip on seats e.g. Bochum (right)
With this model standing areas include safety barriers every few rows which are easily removable when converted to all-seating. Seats can then be attached to every second row as there’s a metal clip on every second step. Seats can be unclipped afterwards and the barriers re-inserted after a game which required an all-seater stadium. Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion uses similar technology and boasts the largest free-standing grandstand in Europe.
3. Foldaway seats e.g. Hamburg (below)
Hamburg’s ultra-modern AOL Arena includes 10,000 standing spaces and 45,000 seats. As at Bochum, the barriers are easily removable when the stadium is in all-seater mode but the main difference is that when the stand is in standing mode, the seats fold away. Notice that every other step is made of metal? The seats are under the metal steps. This is not going to be suitable for many clubs but it is another option.
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) was contacted last night by the Sports Ground Safety Association (SGSA), who told us that the option for football clubs to offer licensed standing at all levels of the game in England and Wales has at last been passed into official Government policy.
Brentford, QPR and Wolves are the latest clubs to confirm they will have safe standing areas – and more clubs are expected to follow next season as the Government has confirmed that Premier League and Championship clubs can introduce standing during 2022/23.