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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. 

Argyle & Shrimpers unveil safe standing plans

posted 12 Jun 2017, 08:36 by Jon Darch   [ updated 12 Jun 2017, 09:06 ]

June 2017. Within a couple of weeks of each other, two EFL clubs have unveiled stadium plans to incorporate rail seating areas at their grounds as soon as legislation permits them to do so.

Argyle & Shrimpers unveil safe standing plans

First up was League One Plymouth Argyle. They unveiled plans to redevelop their aging main stand and link it up to the more modern horseshoe bowl built in 2001. In each joining corner (one of which is pictured on the right) they hope that legislation will change in time to enable them to fit rail seats. Full details of their plans appeared in the local press.

Southend United
The second club in a matter of weeks to release similar plans was Southend United. Their planning application for their long-awaited new ground at Fossetts Farm devoted two full pages to explaining how and why they were incorporating provision for safe standing into their stadium design. This included the cross-section of the proposed 'Home End' (picture below), indicating that rail seating would be fitted on the rear 31 rows if legislation allowed. The main planning application document can be read here (pages 66 and 67 relate to safe standing).

Increased capacity
The standing capacity in Southend would be around 2,750, working on a ratio of 1.5 standing fans per seat space. In Plymouth, meanwhile, the hope is to achieve a ratio of almost 2:1, with each quadrant accommodating around 2,000 standing fans behind 1,000 rail seats.

Help bring rail seating to England and Wales

posted 7 Apr 2017, 02:17 by Jon Darch   [ updated 12 Jun 2017, 09:19 ]

The Football Supporters Federation (FSF), ourselves and other bodies are looking to run a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed to install rail seating at an EFL ground to create a safe standing area. We see such a pilot as an important step in the campaign to give all fans in England and Wales - not just those of clubs with existing terraces - the option to stand.

Help bring rail seating to England & Wales

We're therefore now asking football fans from all corners of the country to take 5 minutes to answer a quick survey about crowdfunding and safe standing.

Please do the quick survey here

Many thanks in advance – your input can help make a real difference.

Liverpool FC supporters back rail seating

posted 10 Jan 2017, 04:36 by Jon Darch   [ updated 10 Jan 2017, 04:38 ]

January 2017. In what is believed to be the biggest ever poll of Liverpool fans’ attitude towards safe standing an overwhelming majority have agreed that their club should consider following Celtic’s lead and look to install rail seating at Anfield.

Liverpool fans overwhelmingly back rail seating

The operators of multi-award-winning podcast The AnfieldWrap frequently run polls on their Twitter account, which is followed by over 110,000 Liverpool fans. Normally, they say, they get around 1,200 votes. In January 2017, they decided to run a poll on safe standing. The level of response was astonishing. Instead of the usual 1,200, nearly 8,000 LFC fans wanted to have their say. And 83% supported the suggestion put to them that Liverpool should consider something similar to the safe standing section at Celtic Park.

Coming just months after 93% of the members of Liverpool’s leading supporters’ group The Spirit of Shankly voted for their organisation to adopt a formal position on rail seating, the result of the TAW poll gives the lie to the assumption that Liverpool fans en bloc oppose safe standing. After a comprehensive consultation exercise, Spirit of Shankly will be formally adopting their position on rail seating in mid-2017. If the TAW poll is representative of the view of the match-going Liverpool fans, then it looks likely that this position too will be a supportive one.

Premier League clubs discuss safe standing

posted 10 Jan 2017, 04:29 by Jon Darch   [ updated 10 Jan 2017, 04:54 ]

November 2016. Safe standing in England and Wales has come a major step closer with the 20 Premier League clubs formally discussing the subject at a chairmen’s meeting for the first time ever.

Premier League clubs discuss safe standing

As a result of their meeting, the clubs “tasked the Premier League with scoping out the safety, supporter, technical and legislative issues surrounding safe standing” to enable further fact-based discussions to take place.

While the Football League had consulted its 72 clubs about rail seating in December 2013, the Premier League had not until now held any formal discussions on the topic with its clubs. The outcome of the EFL consultation was a mandate for the League executive from 77% of its member clubs to “approach the minister for sport to request that the 'all-seater' stadia requirement for Championship clubs be reviewed with a view to the re-introduction of standing accommodation”.

With the Premier League now taking what West Ham co-chairman David Gold called “probably the first step” towards the introduction of safe standing, the prospect of a joined-up approach to government on the issue from the EPL and EFL together now seems much greater.

Manchester Utd ask fans about safe standing

posted 10 Jan 2017, 04:20 by Jon Darch   [ updated 10 Jan 2017, 04:55 ]

December 2016. Manchester United have become the first Premier League club to survey its fans on safe standing. In a trailblazing move, the world’s most famous football club has asked fans if they would like to see safe standing at Old Trafford and, if so, where.

Manchester United ask fans about safe standing

As part of a survey sent out to season ticket holders, the Red Devils asked fans two questions: “If Premier League clubs were permitted to introduce safe standing would you like Manchester United to do so at Old Trafford in the future?” and “If Manchester United were to introduce safe standing areas at Old Trafford in the future, where would you like these areas to be situated?” The second question was accompanied by an Old Trafford seating plan, with fans asked to then select their top three choices.

The two survey questions as shown to Utd fans:

This unprecedented degree of fan engagement on the subject from a Premier League club comes as a continuation of a long dialogue that Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has had on safe standing with the club over several years, during which time MUST has been instrumental in organising presentations of rail seating to senior club executives at Old Trafford, Celtic Park and VfL Wolfsburg.

West Bromwich Albion look at safe standing

posted 10 Jan 2017, 03:44 by Jon Darch   [ updated 10 Jan 2017, 03:46 ]

November 2016. West Bromwich Albion have become the latest Premier League to announce a public interest in rail seating, with operations director Mark Miles giving a long interview on the subject to local media and via the club’s own channels to explain the potential implications to fans.

West Bromwich Albion look at safe standing

Talking about the assessment of safety risks in existing all-seater stadia such as The Hawthorns, Miles says: “While standing in seated areas isn’t inherently unsafe, it’s far from ideal and as a club, we have to recognise that there are potential risks. One is the possibility of a potential crowd collapse where there is a surge or something similar at the back and everybody dominoes forwards from the top of the stand. Clearly that is a worst case scenario, but we must accept it exists.”

Looking ahead to potential provided by rail seats, he notes: “if it could be demonstrated that in fact, it can actually create a safer environment and address the issue that, whether we like it or not, supporters want to stand, then I think government would take notice.”

His full interview, which is well worth a read, is available here on the WBA website.

As a senior figure also in the Football Safety Officers Association, it is great to see Mark talking here so knowledgeably about rail seats and looking with an open mind at the benefits that they may bring for him in terms of the safety of spectators in his ground.

Football Association backs safe standing

posted 10 Jan 2017, 03:35 by Jon Darch   [ updated 10 Jan 2017, 04:41 ]

November 2016. In the same month that Premier League clubs discussed safe standing for the first time ever, the FA gave its backing to the concept, with new chairman Greg Clarke throwing his weight behind the campaign.

Football Association backs safe standing

“I love standing, the fans love it and it really contributes to the atmosphere. I have fond memories of standing up when I was a lad and I always stand up at grassroots matches, such as when I watched Devon County FA play the Royal Navy last week. I think if football works together on this, then we could get a result and the fans would love it”, Clarke told The Times.

"A fan of safe standing"

Shortly after taking up his new position, Clarke had previously told The Telegraph: “Certainly, I’ve been a fan of safe standing. In the end, if people want to stand and you can make it safe for them to stand, why wouldn’t you let them? We need to find a way over time to convince the Government there won’t be public order issues, it will be safe, it will be controllable… what we want is nice safe family-orientated grounds which also have safe standing.”

With the Premier League now formally discussing the subject, the EFL mandated by 77% of its member clubs to “approach the minister for sport to request that the 'all-seater' stadia requirement for Championship clubs be reviewed with a view to the re-introduction of standing accommodation” and the FA chairman now sayingI think if football works together on this, then we could get a result”, a three-party approach to government looks closer than ever before.

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