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Rail seats in Green Guide and officially allowed

posted 21 Dec 2018, 01:25 by Jon Darch   [ updated 21 Dec 2018, 01:38 ]

The Sports Ground Safety Authority has now published the long-awaited new edition of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, also known as the Green Guide and within the 'Spectator Accommodation - Seating' section of the Guide there is, for the first time, a sub-section on what the SGSA call 'seats incorporating barriers' and 'seats with independent barriers'.

Rail seats officially allowed

Following publication of the Guide, the SGSA has also confirmed that it is possible, subject to certain provisos, e.g. Safety Advisory Group approval and an agreed management plan for the area concerned, for grounds that include seats incorporating barriers within their provision of exclusively seated accommodation to be licensed as compliant with the all-seater policy.

This gives all clubs with all-seater stadia the opportunity to enhance spectator safety in this way in areas of their ground where more active supporters are inclined to stay on their feet throughout extended moments of excitement, rather than sit passively in their seat for the full 90 minutes.

It also enables clubs to get such areas of their grounds ready to be operated formally as standing areas as and when government policy allows and ready to take advantage of any future potential for increasing capacity in such areas (as illustrated below).

In addition to these opportunities, there are, however, also risks. In some scenarios it is possible that capacity will be reduced.

The document linked to below sets out to explain and illustrate these opportunities and risks:

Seating incorporating barriers - Implications of new safety guidelines

Ask your MP to attend safe standing debate

posted 18 Jun 2018, 09:48 by Jon Darch   [ updated 18 Jun 2018, 09:54 ]

Does your MP plan to attend the safe standing debate in Parliament on 25 June? There is one way to find out and to urge them to do so: write to them and ask! Below are easy instructions for doing just that in a few seconds.

Ask your MP to attend the safe standing debate

2. Enter your postcode
3. Click on your MP's name
4. Insert text into the template between 'Dear X' and 'Your sincerely'. Use your own words or just copy and past this:

As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask you to attend this coming Monday's Westminster Hall debate on allowing Premier League and Championship football clubs to introduce safe standing.

The debate was triggered, as you are probably aware, by an e-petition that gained over 112,000 signatures, demonstrating just how important this issue is to football fans across the country, myself included.

The debate is at 4.30pm on 25 June in the Grand Committee Room.

Please let me know whether you will be attending.

5. Add your name after 'Your sincerely'
6. Complete the form below the message text.
7. Click 'Preview and Send'.
8. Click 'Edit some more' to edit or 'I'm happy, send it' to send.
9. In the e-mail that you are then sent click 'Send my message to...'

All done!

Shrewsbury Town make safe standing history

posted 13 Jun 2018, 02:55 by Jon Darch   [ updated 13 Jun 2018, 02:55 ]

Within days of the safe standing petition reaching its 100,000 target and a couple of weeks before the Labour Party threw its weight behind the campaign, Shrewsbury Town created history by unveiling the first area of rail seating in England or Wales in a stadium otherwise fitted exclusively with conventional, low-backed seats.

Shrewsbury Town make safe standing history

The installation of some 500 rail seats was completed in just 7 days and carried out by locally based manufacturer Ferco Seating, who had also done the Celtic installation in 2016.

Following the press launch in late May, there will be a public grand opening later in the summer.

More images of the ground-breaking safe standing area can be seen here:

(Scroll down beyond the images from Celtic)

Scudamore: make standing a "local choice"

posted 12 Jun 2018, 12:52 by Jon Darch   [ updated 12 Jun 2018, 12:55 ]

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore has said for the first time that he thinks clubs should be able to decide for themselves whether to offer safe standing at their ground.

Scudamore: standing should be a "local choice" for clubs

Talking a week after an EFL survey of 30,000 football supporters showed 94% backing for safe standing and a day ahead of the Labour Party making support for its introduction formal party policy, Scudamore said “We are looking to make sure we’ve got all evidence and all the data to feed into government on a review they’ve pretty much committed to holding.

“I think we will look to work with that review in order to create the position where our clubs have choice – which is a local choice based on their own stadia, their own circumstances, in order to enable them to, if they wish, to be able to offer alternatives to all-seat [stadiums].”

With the FA also understood to be supportive of the introduction of safe standing areas, this means that for the first time ever football is speaking with one voice on the issue: the fans, the Premier League, the EFL and the FA all in unison in their support for safe standing.

Now it just needs the Government to listen.

Govt 'sources' hint at review of standing ban

posted 12 Jun 2018, 08:55 by Jon Darch   [ updated 12 Jun 2018, 12:37 ]

With the pressure of 112,000 signatures, an impending parliamentary debate and Labour's looming announcement of support for safe standing clearly starting to tell, 'Government sources' hinted in early June that a review of the standing ban could be on the cards.

Government 'sources' hint at a review of the standing ban

The BBC reported a source as saying: "Safety of supporters is paramount. However we recognise that technology and stadium design has evolved since the all-seater policy was introduced and the time is right to look at the issue.

"The sports minister has not shut the door to fans keen on standing sections being introduced but it is important that all the evidence and viewpoints are considered extremely carefully."

Given that rail seats have been successfully in use at Celtic for two years now and there is no longer any resistance from safety experts to safe standing trials in England or Wales, it is difficult to see an actual need for a review.

However, if that is the Government's chosen course of action, it is now going to be important that fans are allowed a say in the review team's terms of reference and in the selection of its chair.

It is also going to be important to ensure that this does not become an excuse to kick the can down the road. There is no reason why any review should take longer than a couple of months at the most.

Labour announces support for safe standing

posted 12 Jun 2018, 08:23 by Jon Darch   [ updated 12 Jun 2018, 08:27 ]

Friday 8 June, 2018, Loftus Road, London: shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan announces official Labour Party support for the introduction of safe standing areas in current all-seater grounds.

Labour Party announces support for safe standing

After 6 months of consultation with fans, clubs, safety authorities and other interested parties, including a round-table meeting with representatives of 41 supporter groups 2 days earlier at Westminster, the shadow sports minister announced that the Labour Party has made support for safe standing official party policy.

"It's time for change," she said. "Labour's decision is the result of in-depth consultation with football clubs, fans and safety authorities."

"The current system isn't working, people are standing in unsafe seated areas, and accidents can happen."

The announcement was made at QPR's Loftus Road, with the Safe Standing Roadshow on hand to act as an appropriate visual prop (shown in the photo are Rosena Allin-Khan and SSR operator Jon Darch).

Support for safe standing is now official party policy of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

As of mid-June 2018 the official Conservative Party line was still to maintain the status quo.

Bringing MPs up to speed ahead of the debate

posted 4 May 2018, 04:34 by Jon Darch   [ updated 4 May 2018, 04:38 ]

With the government website petition having passed 100,000 signatures and a debate on safe standing having been granted as a result, it is now important that MPs understand what, for example, rail seating is all about.

Bringing MPs up to speed

Between now and the day of the debate, 25 June, the roadshow will therefore be going out and about to let as many MPs as possible come along, ask questions and experience for themselves just how safe standing is behind the seats' waist-high rails.

All the roadshow needs is a venue (inside or out) and a host willing to invite local MPs to attend a meeting (in private if preferred) to learn more about this subject ahead of the debate.

So if you're a football club CEO or the chair of a supporters group, or just a passionate supporter of safe standing, if you would like to organise such a meeting, please just get in touch (

There is no charge for this. We simply need to find a mutually convenient date and it's all systems go!

So, if you'd like to help ensure that the MPs in your area are fully up to speed on rail seating ahead of the safe standing debate, please get in touch.

Government petition passes 50,000 signatures

posted 14 Apr 2018, 12:52 by Jon Darch   [ updated 14 Apr 2018, 12:53 ]

A petition on the government website calling for the introduction of safe standing in the Premier League and EFL has collected over 50,000 signatures and is now well on the way to the 100k target required for the matter to be considered for a parliamentary debate.

Government e-petition passes 50,000 signatures

The surge in fans signing up to the petition comes in the wake of Sports Minister Tracey Crouch’s rejection of an application from West Bromwich Albion to run a rail seating pilot at The Hawthorns and her subsequent claims that safe standing was wanted by only a “vocal minority” of fans.

Her rejection of WBA’s proposed trial was followed by an assertion that fans who stand in all-seater stadia should be forced to sit down. She said “There are regulations to deal with persistent standing — I would like to see them enforced”. This met with strong criticism from the Football Safety Officers’ Association. In a statement on their website they said “The pilot would have provided the perfect opportunity to gather much-needed data” and bemoaned the fact that “it seems that as we strive to improve standards of safety already achieved at our grounds, the Government is then choosing to ignore what may prove to be a safer alternative to standing in seated areas”.

Talking about the current all-seater policy, Crouch also claimed that “there is no desire among the top clubs to change this policy”. Yet her own club, Spurs, are building their new stadium with areas designed for safe standing and in the very same week the MD of Manchester United, Richard Arnold, said of rail seating “We would like to implement it at Old Trafford if the legislation allowed it.”

As much as the disbelief at the fact that a proposal for rail seating based wholly on enhanced spectator safety and backed by West Brom’s Safety Advisory Group had been turned down, it was probably the fear that even the current practice of tolerating standing in seated areas might end that prompted over 40,000 fans to add their names to the petition in 48 hours. While the initial shock and anger may now have subsided slightly, the fact that the petition has three more months to run would seem to ensure that the 100,000 signatures needed for the matter to be considered for a parliamentary debate will certainly be reached.

The petition can be reached here

FansBet tops off fans' crowdfunding success

posted 20 Oct 2017, 08:05 by Jon Darch   [ updated 20 Oct 2017, 08:17 ]

October 2017. A five-figure contribution from fan-oriented betting company FansBet has successfully completed the groundbreaking safe standing crowdfunding project at Shrewsbury Town. Installation is now planned for early 2018.

FansBet sponsorship tops off crowdfunding success

The pioneering project to install England's first operational area of rail seating reached a major milestone this week. Funds already raised by around a thousand fans from all the country were topped off by the generous five-figure contribution from FansBet, thus taking the campaign to its target figure.

Subject to gaining formal approval from the local licensing authority, Shrewsbury Town can now go ahead and put the wheels in motion to open the safe standing area in the first quarter of 2018.

This having been a fan-led initiative from the start (it was led by the club's Supporters' Parliament), it was fitting that the final piece in the fund-raising jigsaw was provided by a partner with a unique business model that also is also fan-focussed.

The FansBet model is based on distributing 50% of net profits to participating supporter groups. Full details on how recognised groups can get involved can be obtained from (groups must have a bank account and social media presence).

Thanks to all fans who helped to 'make safe standing happen'! Any 'rewards' not yet sent out will now be distributed in due course.

Image (c)

Maybe see you at the grand opening early in 2018 when this stand makes history!

Major one-time only sponsorship opportunity

posted 21 Aug 2017, 02:52 by Jon Darch   [ updated 7 Oct 2017, 12:40 ]

Later this year / early in 2018, the first ever operational rail seating area in England or Wales will open at Shrewsbury Town.

This is sure to attract huge media attention. The announcement alone that the club's fans planned a crowdfunding campaign to enable the opening of such an area saw Shrewsbury Town trending on Twitter, as well as attracting BBC cameras and coverage on Sky, Sky Sports, Eurosport, ITV, Mail Online and on/in the websites/publications of FourFourTwo, The Guardian, The Times, The Sun, The Telegraph and The Independent among others domestically, plus the Indian Express, News Asia, SBS (Australia), AS (Spain), Sportskeeda (India), footballa (Italy), Sofoot and (France), One Football, Fanzeit, Faszination Fankurve and Stadionwelt (Germany), GP (Sweden) and The Gulf Times among no doubt many more international media outlets that are not picked up by an English-language Google search.

When the new area actually opens, it is therefore easy to imagine even greater coverage. What's more the photographs and TV pictures taken that day will not only go around the world, but are also likely to be used over and over again by broadcasters, newspapers and online media as the stock images to illustrate safe standing stories for months and years to come.

In addition to co-branding of the crowdfunding campaign website and extensive exposure on the club website and that of the Football Supporters Federation, inclusion in press releases and branding of coverage of the construction of this trailblazing safe standing area, the opportunity now exists for a headline campaign sponsor to enjoy branding as per the example illustrated above at the area's high-profile media launch.

Interested parties should contact for full details and also see here.

But don't delay. There will only ever be one first such area introduced at an all-seater ground in England. And this will be it. And there will only ever be one chance to be involved as a sponsor. 

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