Safe standing licences for top-rung UK clubs



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Five English clubs granted safe standing Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The Premier League (top level of the English football league system) teams Manchester United F.C., Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Manchester City F.C., Chelsea F.C., and the Championship team Cardiff City F.C. have received approval to have licensed safe standing in seated areas from January 1st, British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said on November 8th.

The ‘News 18’ stated that the UK Government had instructed the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) in September to trial safe standing in selected Premier League and Championship grounds to take the first steps in creating licensed standing areas.

The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Until 2011, it was known as the Football Licensing Authority, having been set up under the Football Spectators Act 1989.

The ‘News 18’ further stated that grounds in England’s top divisions were converted to all-seater stadiums nearly 30 years ago after Liverpool supporters were crushed in overcrowded and fenced-in areas at the 39,732-capacity Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, in 1989, which led to 97 deaths.

Huddleston said in a statement, “I’m pleased to approve these five clubs as early adopters of licensed safe standing areas for the second half of the season. The time is now right to properly trial safe standing in the Premier League and EFL Championship ahead of a decision on a widespread rollout. Safety is absolutely paramount and the SGSA is working hand-in-glove with the clubs on this. Fans deserve different options on how they can enjoy a live match and I will be watching the progress of these trials with interest.”

Research is set to be carried out to evaluate the implementation of the licensed standing areas after which the Government will decide on a potential wider roll-out next season.

‘Spurs’ Chairman Daniel Levy was delighted with the decision after lobbying the Government for safe standings areas – “It delivers choice for fans attending the game – whether home or away supporters – and the vast majority of our fans are in favor of this scheme.”

Clubs will have to meet a number of criteria such as seats with barriers in home and away sections and seats that cannot be locked in ‘up’ or ‘down’ positions so fans have the option to sit during breaks in play.

A code of conduct must also be in place for fans along with CCTV coverage.

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