Premier League and Championship clubs given green light to introduce safe standing

Blackpool are now legally permitted to introduce safe standing at Bloomfield Road should they wish to do so.

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Police investigating fan trouble during Blackpool's friendly against Southport

Clubs in the Championship and the Premier League have been given the green light by the government to create designated standing areas.

It comes after five clubs - Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City - took part in a pilot study during the second half of the 2021/22 season.

Brentford, QPR and Wolves will be the next clubs to join them in offering licensed standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans, while other clubs are expected to follow suit during the new season.

Wembley Stadium will also offer a small licensed standing area for fans at domestic matches later in the season.

The necessary legislative amendments were tabled in parliament on Monday.

“Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds,” culture secretary Nadine Dorries said.

Safe standing was trialed at five Premier League stadiums last season, including Old Trafford

“We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted.”

In January, Stamford Bridge became the first top-flight ground to allow licensed standing in almost 30 years when Chelsea took on Liverpool in the Premier League.

Designated standing areas have not been in use in the top flight since the adoption of all-seater stadiums in the early 1990s - a recommendation of the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 97 fans died following a crush.

Spectators at many grounds have continued to stand in seated areas, most commonly behind the goals, despite regular warnings from local authorities and police that it is dangerous.

“Based upon what I have experienced and we have learnt through the pilot programme, safe standing is set to deliver an electric atmosphere at our football stadiums,” sports minister Nigel Huddleston said.

"Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters' groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough disaster."

Standing areas are commonplace in Germany's Bundesliga and there are similar examples across the rest of Europe, the United States and Australia.

In 2020, Blackpool’s chief executive Ben Mansford was asked by fans about the potential to introduce safe standing at Bloomfield Road.

“At this moment in time there are better places for capital to be spent, i.e. training ground,” he told a structured dialogue meeting.

“Safe standing is perhaps something that could be considered as part of the East Stand development.”

Mansford went on to say he doesn’t see any “justification” ripping out seats in the current stands. But it is something the board will look into having received invites to look at other stadiums where safe standing has been installed.