Standing is unsafe

Myth: "Standing is unsafe"

The suggestion that standing at football matches is unsafe simply isn't true. And rail seats make it safer still (if that were possible!). But don't take our word for it. Others agree:

The Sports Ground Safety Authority

Despite some years ago constantly claiming that standing is intrinsically unsafe, the Football Licensing Authority (now the SGSA), when challenged by the Football Supporters Federation to back up the statistics they were using to support such claims, had to admit they could not be substantiated and withdrew them, conceding that "...the injury statistics we produce do not provide firm statistical evidence that standing is less safe than seating".

Department of Culture Media and Sport

The Department's 'Green Guide' to 'Safety and Sports Grounds' dedicates a full 16-page section to the provision of standing facilities at grounds. They don't ban standing. For rugby, horse racing, pop concerts at sports grounds and football grounds below the Championship the DCMS guide is happy to provide advice on how to configure standing areas. So, clearly, the DCMS does not think standing is unsafe.

Lord Justice Taylor

In his report on the Hillsbrough Disaster, Lord Justice Taylor cited the summary of recommendations from his Technical Working Party that stated that “standing accommodation is not intrinsically unsafe”.

WS Atkins

Commissioned in 2002 by Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council to look into what the council perceived as the unsafe practice of fans standing persistently at Old Trafford (with the council at that time threatening Manchester United with reductions in the ground's capacity), WS Atkins, global experts in structural design, found that jumping up from your seat to celebrate a goal (which is, of course, allowed) was more 'unsafe' than simply standing throughout a match (which is not allowed). The report stated:

"Risk of persistent standing can range from relatively low when people are standing passively to a medium level when movements such as leaning and chanting occur...Standing at moments of high excitement and during celebrations was found to be more unsafe..."

Andy Holt, Assistant Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police

To quote David Conn in the Guardian: "Andy Holt, a spokesman on football policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, acknowledged to the Guardian that standing areas can be safe. He said the police reluctance to see standing areas return to the top two divisions is more a question of crowd control, and policing disorder, than safety in terms of Hillsborough-style crushes." (See more on crowd control here)


We thus have here the licensing authority for safety at football grounds, the relevant government department, Lord Justice Taylor, independent industry experts and a police spokesman all agreeing that standing is not intrinsically unsafe.

And that's even without taking into the account the added safety provided by rail seats that introduce a handrail in front of every row. The logical conclusion from the points made above is that standing at such a rail seat will be safer than sitting in a seat and jumping up, with no rail to hold onto, when your team scores a goal!

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