By DOUG FAULKNER
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Norwich City fans have backed a campaign to reintroduce standing at football matches.
The Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign aims to persuade the government, football authorities and clubs to bring back limited standing sections at stadia on a trial basis. The campaign is currently being supported by 13 Football League clubs including Aston Villa, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, and Peterborough United.
Jack Bridgeman, 27, an English teacher from Norwich, said: “I think yes [to standing] provided it’s safe. In Europe they have two rows of standing and at English grounds a lot of people stand anyway.
“It should be trailled at a number of clubs first, definitely. It shouldn’t go back to all standing though as there are families and children who go to games.”
Plastic factory technician Shaun Mayston, 43, said: “It would be beneficial for clubs as it would increase attendance.
“The days of all seating grounds has come to an end and I don’t think there would be safety issues as everyone’s aware of what happened before.”
Meanwhile Costessey resident Gary Cartwright, 37, said: “Certain grounds aren’t able to cope with it but personally I would like to see it, there’s more atmosphere.
“I’m not really worried about the safety of it but you’d probably need to increase the security a bit.”
Craig Briggs, a 21-year-old labourer from Attleborough, added: “I think it would be a good idea bringing standing back, people stand anyway.”
But Pip Burden, 63, from Holt, has his doubts about standing. He said: “If you can see sitting you should sit. If everyone can watch the game I don’t see the problem.
“Sitting is much safer as otherwise people push to the front and it all get’s crushed.”
The views of Norwich City fans came as the families of the Hillsborough victims condemned the campaign.
Margaret Aspinall is chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and her son James, 18, was among the 96 people who died at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989.
Mrs Aspinall said: “There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed. There were 96 dead at Hillsborough and it could have been a lot more.
“Standing should never, ever come back. I do not think there is anything safe about standing.
“I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now.”
But Superintendent Steven Graham of the West Midlands Police has said better stewarding and stadium design than was available in the 1980s is helping to make grounds safer.
He said no link could be made between hooliganism and standing stadia, as the fan who threw a coin at Rio Ferdinand during the weekend’s heated Manchester derby was in a seated area at the Etihad Stadium.
His belief is that police commanders “would not be riddled with fear” if they were policing a ground that had standing seats.
He argued: “We have got very little experience of what standing would look like in a 21st century football ground in the UK. We have experience of it from the 1980’s in the UK and we have experiences of it today in Germany.
“We are not proposing tearing up football grounds. We need to start gathering some data so that people in the industry can make decisions to give supporters the best customer experience.”
The FSF claims football has changed dramatically since the Taylor Report first recommended all-seated stadia in the 1990s, but one thing that has not changed is the desire from supporters to stand.
While standing is officially banned throughout the Premier League and Championship, the reality is very different, they claim.
A campaign spokesman said: “Week in, week out football supporters stand in their thousands at top level English football, all of them in accommodation that is unfit for purpose and usually to the detriment of other fans who prefer, or are forced, to sit.
“Meanwhile technology has moved on apace and we see fans across the globe - in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the USA - standing safely in properly designed and managed areas, paying lower prices and generating better atmospheres. In short, England and Wales are being left behind.
“Nobody associated with the Football Supporters’ Federation’s safe standing campaign wants to return to life on the terraces of the 1980s.
“Looking to the future, there’s a tremendous opportunity to solve some of the profound problems in the modern game by introducing new standing technology.”
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