Palace back calls for safe standing trials

Reported today (26 October 2012) by Andy Saunders in the Croydon Advertiser, Championship club Crystal Palace have backed calls from MP Roger Godsiff and the Football Supporters Federation for the Government to allow trials of safe standing areas.

The article continued:

Co-chairman Stephen Browett told the Advertiser this week he “fully supported” proposals to pilot technology currently used in Germany, as it was possible it might actually improve crowd safety. Selhurst Park has been an all-seater stadium for almost 20 years, after standing was outlawed following the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. But a growing number of clubs in the top two divisions are now asking for trials of “rail seating” areas, in the hope they could provide a solution to stop thousands of fans persistently standing in seated areas.

Mr Browett [pictured] said:

“I fully support the introduction of a pilot scheme to test safe standing in our football stadiums. At the moment most away supporters stand in front of seats as well as a sizeable chunk of home fans."

Rail seating is comprised of seats incorporated into a continuous waist height barrier. The seats can be flipped up and locked to create standing areas, but any crushing or surging is physically impossible because barriers are fixed every one or two rows.

“It would appear to me that rail seats could be a safer option, as it is already used successfully and safely in Germany,” Mr Browett added.

A nationwide Football Supporters’ Federation campaign for safe standing areas was boosted last month following the release of the damning Hillsborough report, which blamed the tragedy almost entirely on the police and which has now encouraged more clubs to declare an interest in relaxing the all seater rule. An early day motion has since been tabled in Parliament to allow trials and the Federation has announced plans this week to demonstrate rail seats to MPs at Westminster in December.

Campaigner Jon Darch, who has spent more than a year visiting clubs throughout the country with a sample rail seat structure, said the prospect of Palace fans being allowed to stand again was edging closer.

He said: "When I came to Selhurst Park last December, I was very pleased to find the club keen to explore the concept. For the chairman to now follow that up with his comments this week is very good news indeed and adds to the support being expressed by other clubs such as Aston Villa, Sunderland, Peterborough United, Derby County and the whole of the Scotland.

“We now hope that a good number of MPs will represent the wishes of their football-supporting constituents by signing the early day motion. If all goes well, clubs like Crystal Palace may soon be able to offer their singing sections designated safe standing accommodation designed for the purpose."

You can read a PDF of how the article appeared in the hard copy of the Croydon Advertiser here.