The top two tiers of English football will welcome standing in the crowd at their games for the first time in 30 years during the 2022/23 season.
A small-scale trial, undertaken at grounds including Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season, was considered to be a success, and ministers have now tabled the rule changes needed to amend the Football Spectators Act and make safe standing a reality.
The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, confirmed the move by saying:
“Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds.
“We are not reintroducing terraces, and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted.”
At the time of writing, eight clubs have been approved to introduce safe standing zones at their home grounds, although more are expected to apply – and be approved for – their own standing areas ahead of the new campaign. Wembley Stadium is also expected to welcome standing at the Carabao Cup final and the semi-finals and final of the FA Cup.
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Cardiff City
Any club that wishes to reintroduce standing at their stadium must show that they have the necessary facilities and infrastructure, which include enhanced CCTV coverage, advanced training for stewards and the ability to ensure that fans only occupy one space on the safe terracing.
On the Rails
Although standing is still allowed in a number of European countries, it has been outlawed in England since the early 1990s following the findings of the Taylor Report – the independent investigation that looked into the causes of the tragedy at the Hillsborough stadium back in 1989.
One of the outcomes of the report was to ban standing at English football games and turn implement a rule change that saw all league clubs having to adopt all-seater stadiums.
In recent years, more studies have been conducted to see how safe standing could be reintroduced to grounds up and down the land, and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge was the first venue to trial safe standing in more than three decades earlier this year during their enthralling 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Railed sections allow fans to occupy one berth, either by standing or by sitting on the clip-away seats provided. The government’s report found that these barriers ‘delivered a positive impact on spectator safety and improved fans’ match day experience,’ with fewer injuries suffered in celebrating goals and safer exiting of the ground at the end of a game, with fans unable to clamber over the seats around them.
The hope is that an extended rollout of safe standing zones will benefit those who want to stand and also those who want to sit. Fans rising to their feet when their team is on the attack is a noted safety hazard, and one that police have been desperate to stamp out from the game.
Most of the new standing areas will be located behind the goals, and those at Stamford Bridge and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium can accommodate up to 7,000 supporters.