Football fans to have their say on Safe Standing

The Welsh Conservatives have this week launched a public consultation on ‘safe standing’ as they seek to build a case for a limited pilot in Wales. They want to hear the views of football fans throughout the United Kingdom.

The consultation follows the success of a Conservative led cross-party motion in the National Assembly in July, which saw the Assembly becoming the first UK legislature to formally back safe standing. It is also backed by the Football Supporters Federation and the Safestanding Roadshow.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said:

“Supporters are often described as the lifeblood of the game, but in reality football has long ceased to be the affordable ‘game of the people’ it once was.

Ipswich fans on the away terrace at Huish Park

“Adding to this growing sense of alienation, fans are being stigmatised by a piece of legislation which was drafted in a different era, to address a different set of problems.

“It is high time supporters were given a fair hearing and that’s why we want to hear their views on safe standing.”

A recent report for the UK Government by the Independent Football Ombudsman recommended the introduction of a safe standing pilot, and claimed that existing rules governing standing at matches were becoming “unenforceable”.

The IFO’s report – which can be read in full here (page 13) – says that ground regulations are becoming unenforceable because of the large areas in which standing is already being tolerated. Not only can these areas, in some cases, inconvenience those who do not wish to stand, they are far from ideal because all-seater stadiums are not designed with standing in mind. The IFO wants to see limited, designated, standing areas introduced on a trial basis.

Cambridge United Abbey Army

The IFO recommends that the Football Authorities discuss with the SGSA and the DCMS the mounting of an experiment in “Safe Standing”. This would permit the gathering of evidence to judge whether the all-seater policy should now be reviewed and how the provision of a standing option might affect supporter behaviour.

Mr Davies hopes a limited pilot will be introduced in Wales to assess the safety of modern stadium technology.

“Ground regulations are becoming unenforceable and the current arrangements satisfy no one. As the IFO points out, the only sensible way forward is to commission a trial in safe standing areas at football grounds.

“We need to ensure that arrangements are in place which satisfy all supporters; from those who prefer to sit without their view being obstructed, to those who want to watch the match with other fans on their feet.

“Modern stadium technology allows this and that’s why I’ve been working with organisations like the Football Supporters Federation to try and bring a trial to Wales so that we can assess the evidence sensibly.”

The survey closes at midnight on the 23rd November and can be taken here:

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