Safe standing move at Luton, Southampton



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Southampton FC to offer safe standing Image: Southampton FC

English football clubs Luton Town FC and Southampton FC are both moving to install safe standing areas in their stadiums.

EFL Championship team Southampton said that over the coming months the club would be pushing forward with preparations to make the Northam Stand at St Mary’s a Saints fans-only end, alongside the inclusion of a new safe standing area.

St Mary’s Stadium is an all-seater football stadium in Southampton, England (UK), which has been the home stadium of Southampton F.C. since 2001. The stadium has a capacity of 32,384 and is currently the largest football stadium in South East England.

Southampton said it is creating a home-fan-only red and white wall in the Northam end, in a bid to enhance the matchday atmosphere and upgrade the fan experience.

The club said that the planned changes are the result of fan feedback and that it has been working with acoustics experts to find the best possible route forward. This will include moving the away fans to another area of the stadium, while securing an ideal space for the Family Stand.

Phil Parsons, CEO of Saints said, “Our fans are the heart of the club and we want to create the best possible atmosphere for years to come, so we’re excited to be making these important upgrades to St Mary’s.

“We’ve been listening to fan feedback and we know moving the away end, to create a full home end in the Northam, is something a lot of our fans have been wanting for a long time. Russell Martin (manager) and the team support the changes and are looking forward to playing in front of a full home Northam end.

“We’re a club trying to make things happen on and off the pitch and challenge the status quo.”

Mike Sadler, Fan Advisory Board Co-Chair added, “For many years, Saints fans have said that having the Northam end split between home and away fans has reduced the atmosphere and helped away teams. The Fan Advisory Board represents fans and support the club in their decision to create a full Northam end.

“We think this will greatly improve the atmosphere, and really help the team. We’re delighted this is now going to happen and we look forward to helping the club progress this exciting project together with our fanbase.”

Meanwhile, Premier League Luton Town FC said it is installing licensed safe standing into the Oak Road Stand at Kenilworth Road, in a bid to make the ground more accessible, comfortable and accommodating prior to its move to the new Power Court stadium.

The 10,356-capacity Kenilworth Road is an association football stadium in Luton, Bedfordshire, England (UK). It has been the home ground of Luton Town Football Club since 1905.

The club said in a statement, “This will not only increase the capacity, enabling more fans to watch Premier League action at Kenilworth Road, but also allow spectators to stand, or sit if they wish, in more comfort and, we feel, will further add to the fantastic atmosphere Kenilworth Road delivers.

“Our previous consultation with supporters on the subject of safe standing resulted in such positive feedback that as soon as licensed standing became legitimised by government it immediately became a desire to implement this at the earliest opportunity. Safety authorities are also now strongly encouraging Clubs in this direction which has been backed up further this season by those fans who have utilised safe standing at many away games, including at Manchester United, Chelsea and Brentford.”

Work has already started and Luton said progress will depend on factors including cup ties and television fixture selections as the installation is phased between a few games.

Luton added, “It will be necessary to start works in the away blocks initially and we are targeting to have the first section of safe standing installed in the home end for you by the Manchester United match in February.

“Once the new standing seats have been installed in the home end, each seat and barrier will be allocated allowing the Club to operate an increased capacity meaning we will no longer have unreserved seating in these blocks.”

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