Premier League and Championship clubs invited to trial safe standing

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Manchester City has installed rail seating at Etihad Stadium that can be converted into standing areas

Premier League and Championship clubs were asked to express interest in piloting safe standing areas for this season.

The deadline for clubs to apply to the Sports Ground Safety Authority is 6 October

The SGSA stated that if approved, they would be able offer licensed standing areas starting in January 2022.

By law, all-seaters have been required for first- and second-tier grounds in England or Wales since 1994.

Following the Taylor Report into 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 97 Liverpool fans died, standing in English football's top 2 divisions was banned.

Campaigners have been calling for standing to be permitted in public places since recent seasons. To provide seating that can be converted into standing areas, barrier seating was created.

2018 saw new guidance by the SGSA (the body responsible for ground safety) that allowed rail seats to be used.

The Conservatives pledged to work towards safe standing areas in their 2019 manifesto. If the initial trials prove successful legislation could be introduced within the next few year for all stadiums in England’s top two divisions.

According to the SGSA, the announcement of the pilot program "starts the legal process for clubs to offer licensed areas starting 1 January".

Nigel Huddleston, UK sports minister, stated that "we have been clear that our goal is to work with fans and clubs in order to introduce safe standing at football fields."

"With the completion of independent research and the presence of capacity on ground across the country, it is now the right time for us to move forward."

Rail seating has been installed on the grounds of Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United as well as Tottenham and Wolves.

The safe standing scheme is likely to be applied for by Wolves and Manchester United.

Martyn Henderson, chief executive of SGSA, stated that "We know that many fans want the option to stand" and added that the research into new engineering solutions has demonstrated how this can be done safely.

"This announcement will allow us to properly test, evaluate licensed standing areas before we decide on the next steps."

Club criteria

Clubs who want to participate in the scheme must meet a few criteria, according to the SGSA.

Seats with barriers/independent barrier - These must be placed in both the home and away sections.

Fans must be able sit or stand in the designated area.

You cannot lock the seats in either the 'up or 'down position. There must be at least one space/seat per person.

The viewing standards of others fans, including those with disabilities, must not be affected by the licensed standing areas

Fans in the licensed area must adhere to a code for conduct

The Football Supporters Association (FSA), welcomed the move, which it claimed ended "an FSA-led safestanding campaign that has lasted over three decades".

It said: "There is a tradition that fans stand at games because it increases choice, improves ambiences, and ensures supporters safety when they are hosted in properly licensed standing areas."

Pete Daykin, co-ordinator for the FSA's safe-standing campaign, stated: "It brings an end to a farcical condition in which fans continue to stand at their thousands, often to the detriment or despicable of those who can't and don't want them to support them - but clubs can't officially recognize or tackle in constructive, proactive ways."