“It’s a very difficult situation for the club to sort” - debate rages over Norwich City’s calls for fans to stop standing during matches at Carrow Road

Norwich City fans at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.

Norwich City fans at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City supporters have been told they must sit down during matches at Carrow Road - or risk the club having 'serious sanctions' imposed upon it.

A Canaries statement pointed out the club's hierarchy understood some people would stand during 'exciting moments' of matches.

However, when asked by the Evening News how persistent standers would be dealt with, a club spokesman said no further comment would be added.

The club said in the statement: 'City are appealing to all fans to help avoid the risk of serious sanctions being imposed on the club by remaining seated during games at Carrow Road.

'The Norfolk Safety Advisory Group (SAG) is working with the club to help ensure supporters' safety and enjoyment of the match is not compromised by persistent standing during games.'

Standing at football matches has been a long-running issue in the professional game ever since the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 - which saw 96 Liverpool fans die in an overcrowded standing area.

The subsequent publication of the Taylor Report in 1990 saw all football stadiums eventually become all-seater.

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However in recent years there have been calls for safe-standing sections, similar to those being used in German football, to be introduced in English stadiums.

The Safe Standing Campaign being run by the Football Supporters' Foundation has been attempting to persuade government and football authorities to trial safe-standing sections.

The campaign has been backed by 21 English professional clubs, including Aston Villa, Sunderland and Swansea City in the same division as Norwich, the Premier League.

The campaign has not yet proved successful though and in December of last year Sunderland announced it had ejected 38 supporters who insisted on standing so far this season.

At Carrow Road, some supporters in the lower tier of the Barclay Stand and Snake Pit area are known for standing for much of league matches, leaving the club in something of an awkward situation.

Robin Sainty, the former chairman of the soon-to-be-disbanded Norwich City Independent Supporters Club, said: 'It's a very difficult situation for the club to sort, I don't envy them at all.

'Whatever happens they are going to upset a number of people as there are a lot of people who are vehemently for standing at matches and a lot of people are vehemently against standing.'

Mr Sainty, who sits in the Jarrold Stand, added: 'As football fans the priority is to watch football so I would hate to see people losing the right to watch football matches because they have decided to dig their heels in.'

This afternoon the Canaries host Everton at Carrow Road in a Premier League match, where home and away fans will receive a note appealing for them to follow national regulations regarding standing.

The club also said in the statement: 'Seated areas are not designed to safely accommodate large numbers of supporters standing either in front of their seats or in aisles and gangways.

'In addition, young, elderly and infirm fans often find their view of the game partially or totally obstructed by people standing in front of them.'

The statement was released with the backing of the Norfolk SAG - which has the power to close sections of Carrow Road where persistent standing is a serious problem.

There are safety advisory groups around the country which ensure football clubs are doing everything they can to minimise matchday safety risks.

The Liverpool (SAG), for example, has reduced the away ticket allocation of Manchester United fans at Liverpool and Everton's stadiums for the past two seasons because of United fans standing in gangways.