Anger over plans to move 50 Norwich City season ticket holders
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The decision to move more than 50 Norwich City season ticket holders, many of them children, from their seats in the Barclay End has provoked a mixed reaction.
The affected fans, in block A of the lower Barclay End, were sent letters yesterday telling them they must give up their seats from Friday's Championship clash with Brentford - to avoid the ground's capacity from being reduced.
The Safety Advisory Group (SAG)- representatives from the county council and emergency services - had made the capacity reduction threat after complaints over standing.
With standing, including children standing on seats, continuing, the SAG said the club would have to close off 211 seats in block A at this week's game.
The compromise from the club was to move the under 16s and the parents and guardians who sit with them, to other parts of the ground.
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That has not gone down well with the affected fans.
Dan Gilson, 34, from Kent, who sits in the Barclay End with his 11-year-old daughter Faith and his mother, accused the club of taking the easy option of moving children instead of the real culprits.
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He said: 'My daughter is really upset about it because she thinks she has done something wrong, which she hasn't. If people sat down in front of her, she would not have to stand.'
But the Canaries Trust said it could understand why the club had acted as it had and criticism was unfair.
In a statement, they said: 'The fact is that standing has been tacitly allowed at Carrow Road for several seasons with no real pressure on fans to sit down as long as they were being sensible, something for which the club deserves credit.
'I know from our discussions with the club that there have been very tough negotiations with SAF to keep Block A open and that this has meant concessions, but I can assure everyone that the club has done everything humanly possible to help the fans in that section, and that will need to result in a reciprocal acceptance from the fans there that some compromises will have to be made.'
A spokesman for the club said a lot of calls on the issue had been fielded on Tuesday - from those who had been asked to move and from other fans who wanted to voice their opinions.
What the club had to say
Norwich City bosses want to see safe standing return to Carrow Road and have had demonstrations of how railed seating could work.
Steve Stone, managing director at Carrow Road, said he wanted Norwich City to be at the forefront of change.
He said: 'If the legislation changed tomorrow, then I'd take seats out and make a safe standing area. I think there's a point where it will happen,
'You go to any ground now and you see people standing. I'd rather they were doing that on flat concrete, than behind seats.
'We have costed it up. It would cost hundreds of thousands, but it's not an insurmountable cost and I think there would be a long-term benefit.
'I want to see our club at the forefront of doing this. We've been in contact with officials at West Brom about their hopes of piloting a project in the Premier League.
'If we can do it, it would mean people who want to stand would be able to stand.'
What happens at clubs elsewhere
At a meeting of Football League clubs in 2014, the majority were in favour of reviewing the current position over safe standing and permitting supporters to stand in 'rail seating' areas at Championship grounds.
In Scotland, Celtic has installed 3,000 rail seats, the first example of a safe standing section at a UK football ground, although rail seating is common in Germany.
League One side Shrewsbury is looking to become the first English club to install safe standing after a crowdfunding campaign.
However, if the Shropshire side were to get promoted, under the current rules, they would have to think again.
Clubs that have played for three seasons in the top two tiers in England have to provide all-seater stadiums, which will affect Burton Albion and Brentford, which have terraces.
In the Premier League, West Brom have said they would like to trial safe standing.
These are some of the comments on our EDP24 article:
Surya The Sun: 'Sensible decision made by the Club. We can't have children being hurt watching a football game. Although it should be the adults being forced to move if they're the persistent offenders.'
Dawn of Dusk: 'Agree with NCFC, something had to be done if SAG are intent on throwing their weight around. Strange it's 'A' Block though. Something doesn't make sense...'
A Fine City: 'Young children in the lower Barclay has never made much sense. There are plenty of family areas where they will be able to see without standing on the seats. Sensible decision. But if adults are persistently standing, then they should be easy enough to identify, so cancel a few of their season tickets if they ignore a final warning letter.'
Richard Jermy: 'In the summer rip the seats out and replace with safe standing.'
Legislation that football clubs in the top two tiers of English football must provide all-seater stadiums was introduced following the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool fans died.
While that law says clubs must provide the seats, there is no law stating supporters must sit on them.
Instead, that falls within ground regulation rules, which means that clubs can eject people who stand during games and many clubs have turned a blind eye to supporters who choose to stand.
There is now an increasing call for a return to safe standing, The Football Supporters' Federation says that can be achieved by amending the Football Spectators Act 1989, without need for an Act of Parliament.
But, as of February, the government was 'unconvinced by the case put forward for re-introducing standing accommodation at football grounds covered by the all-seater requirement.'