Football fans in Norfolk help trigger Parliament safe-standing debate

Norwich City fans. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City fans. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Almost 1,800 football fans in Norfolk have helped trigger a Parliamentary debate over the introduction of safe-standing at grounds in the Premier League and Championship.

An on-line petition to the government has topped 100,000 signatures, which means it will now be debated in the House of Commons in the summer.

Norwich City Football Club has backed calls for the introduction of safe-standing, with managing director Steve Stone believing it would 'make Carrow Road safer.'

A 'heat map' showing the geographical locations of petition signatories, showed Norwich North, Norwich South, Broadland and South Norfolk were areas of particularly strong support.

More than 350 in Norwich North signed, with more than 250 from each of Norwich South, Broadland and South Norfolk.

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Clubs in English football's top two tiers have had to be all-seater since Lord Justice Taylor's report into the Hillsborough tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

West Bromwich Albion wanted to install 3,600 rail seats, which can be locked in an upright position and allow people to stand, but that was rejected by sports minister Tracey Crouch.

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However, Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said he hoped the Parliamentary debate would make the government pay heed to what fans want.

He said: 'This government has already refused to take notice of the evidence and listen to fans on safe-standing. So I'm delighted that football fans everywhere are forcing them to hear the arguments in parliament.

'Clubs want it and some like Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United are building it into their plans for ground development. Most importantly for me, Norwich City and my fellow supporters want it too. I'll continue to support the demand for safe standing - in Parliament and anywhere else I can.'

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: 'This shows it's an important issue to many people. That's why I've raised it with the government alongside Norfolk colleagues.

'I am sure the minister will listen carefully to Norwich fans as part of the petition and I hope she'll continue to keep all the arguments and evidence under review.'

But she warned there was not much time available for new laws to be passed in Parliament at the moment, given Brexit.

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