After more than three decades of campaigning the voices of football supporters have been heard and standing areas will be possible in the Premier League and Championship.
In 2020’s FSA Annual Review we reported that, “if it wasn’t for the consequences of a global pandemic we would have seen independent research into standing at football carried out at a number of clubs”.
Despite the problems COVID brought, the Government stuck by its manifesto to deliver standing areas while the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) continued to engage with clubs and fans.
On 22nd September 2021 the SGSA announced that, from 1st January 2022, clubs in the top two tiers would be invited to apply to offer standing areas.
Stamford Bridge saw the first game under the new rules on 2nd January 2022 – Chelsea, Cardiff, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs had all been involved in SGSA research.
It’s now up to each club, in conjunction with its local Safety Advisory Group (SAG), to decide what facilities suit their needs. The FSA believes that fans should be part of that process and represented on local SAGs. The SGSA also supports our call for such supporter engagement at a local level.
If you’d like to see standing areas intorduced at your club we’d encourage you to contact your local supporters’ group and ask what discussions they’ve had with your club. If you’re from a supporters’ organisation, and would like help from the FSA when making that approach, please get in touch.
There will be more work in future to ensure clubs and SAGs do what should be done but this is a huge milestone. An achievement that many in football, politics and the police told us would never happen.
While the current Stand Up For Choice moniker has seen this campaign over the line, it’s probably best known as the “Safe Standing Campaign”.
That campaign would not have been possible without the devotion of dozens of key volunteers over the years and the wider support of many tens of thousands more who signed petitions, lobbied their MPs and held banners in grounds. It’s a victory for us all.
FSA Board member Peter Daykin, said:
“This finally brings to an end the farcical situation in which fans at every ground continue to stand in their thousands – often to the detriment of those who can’t or don’t want to stand behind them – but that clubs can’t officially recognise or tackle in a constructive, proactive way.”
Despite this victory, we won’t stop talking about standing.
It provides choice, drives the atmosphere in stadiums and we will continue to promote different types of standing accommodation – rail seats, seats with barriers and licenced standing areas – which our members support and can now enjoy at all levels of the game.