Wolves fans back standing
On 19th May 2011, the Safe Standing Roadshow attended Wolverhampton Wanderers' Fans' Parliament. The Fans' Parliament is a representative group of Wolves supporters, which meets with club executives around once a quarter to discuss issues of relevance to the Wolves community. The main item on the agenda this time was persistent / safe standing and by the end of the evening the verdict was clear: Wolves fans support having the choice to sit or stand!
The meeting was chaired by Marketing Director Matt Grayson, with others on the panel of club executives including CEO Jez Moxey, Stadium Manager Steve Sutton and Lynne O'Reardon, Head of Ticketing and Membership. Having come under pressure in recent months from Wolverhampton Council due to persistent standing in the Jack Harris Stand, the club had promised to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the Football Supporters Federation on future options for safe standing in return for the FSF's support in their request to fans to sit down for now. The meeting was therefore attended by FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke (pictured) and yours truly from the Safe Standing Roadshow.
After a comprehensive debate about standing and a good look at the roadshow unit, which had been erected on the side of the Molineux pitch (see pictures), Jez Moxey asked for a show of hands in response to three questions:
1) How many fans present thought that supporters should have the choice to sit or stand?
2) How many would personally choose to stand?
3) Of those, how many would do so if the price was the same as for a seat?
Of 23 fans present, representing all interest groups (including fans from all four stands, disabled supporters, female fans and supporters from ethnic minorities), 21 agreed that spectators should be given the choice to sit or stand. One voted against and one abstained (see full independent minutes).
In response to the question about who would personally stand, 6 said they would, i.e. just over 26% (well above our suggested figure of 10-15% of a stadium being converted to safe standing).
When asked if they would stand even if the cost was the same as for a seat, all 6 said yes. One supporter even said "...as long as I've got a rail in front of me like on those seats we've just seen."
So the message to those who say there is no demand for safe standing in English football is: check out Wolves! The club's fans' representatives have voted unambiguously: 91% of fans believe there should be a choice, including 88% of those who would personally choose to sit. Given a chance, over a quarter of fans would stand and would do so even if the price was the same as for a seat. The message could hardly have been more clear!