Standing up for York City at Bootham Crescent
July 2012. The roadshow called in on York City's open day on July 29th to show City fans, club officials and council executives how rail seats might be a way of ensuring that the option to stand is not lost at the club's proposed new stadium.
York City was formed in 1922 and began playing at Bootham Crescent ten years later. The ground still has terraces behind both goals. Plans, however, are in place to build a new ground elsewhere in the city with no standing accommodation of any kind.
York City are currently in the fourth tier, having regained their league status last spring. In their entire 90-year history they have played at tier 2 (Championship) level for just two seasons. They are thus not required by the Football Spectators Act to build an all-seater stadium. Why then, you may ask, do they plan to do so?
It's certainly not because the fans - nor club mascot Yorkie - want it (see right)! I understand that it is due to conditions imposed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund when it gave the club a £2m loan ten years ago, which was to convert to a grant towards a new stadium in due course ... and this was to be an all-seater stadium. So despite not being legally obliged to build an all-seater, it appears that the club is being forced to do so by the terms of this loan/grant.
York fans at yesterday's open day, however, were not in the mood to give up on having the choice to stand. Many signed the Football Supporters Federation's safe standing petition and tried out safe standing at rail seats on the roadshow.
Perhaps one reason that the FSIF seems unwilling to help fund any stadium with standing accommodation is that they are afraid that lower league clubs given grants and then building terraces may come back asking for further funds if they subsequently reach Championship level and have to convert those terraces into seated accommodation. If that is the reason, then maybe rail seats can overcome this. After all, any lower league club - like York City - that was to build a stadium with standing areas created through the use of rail seats would not require any further funding to convert to an all-seater stadium if they did get up to tier 2 prior to any change in the regulations.
We can but hope!