Cardiff City’s incredible journey - by Dr Steve Frosdick

Dr Steve Frosdick is an independent safety expert who has worked in sports grounds across Europe for more than 20 years. He explains why standing at the Cardiff City Stadium is neither illegal, nor inherently unsafe, and how it can be managed to suit the needs of those who prefer to sit or stand...

In 2001 Cardiff City was a near bankrupt club in an antiquated stadium with infamous supporters. In 2013, it is an award-winning and customer-friendly business with broadly well-behaved fans.

The club’s whole ethos is about recognising the diversity of its customer base and delivering to its legitimate expectations. Hence there is a Family Stand, excellent hosting of away fans, premium areas and a stand for the noisier fans who create most of the atmosphere.

As is common in many grounds, this latter group wanted to stay standing throughout the match. Stadium Manager Wayne Nash faced a dilemma.

In one area of the ground, pockets of persistent standing were bringing huge complaints from fans who wanted to sit down. Yet in the noisy Canton Stand, almost everyone was stood up behind their seats. To begin with, it seemed sensible to allow spectators an informal choice. Standing would be tolerated and managed in the Canton Stand, but actively discouraged elsewhere.

But Wayne Nash wanted to go further, to clarify the legality and safety of what was being done and then to formalise it. After consulting fans representatives and the authorities he asked me to examine the arrangements and prepare a report.

The report confirmed the view that persistent standing at the Cardiff City Stadium was neither illegal nor inherently unsafe. Accordingly, the club notified the authorities that all such standing would be channelled into a well-managed area in the Canton Stand.

The corollary was that standing would not be tolerated in any other parts of the ground. Fans had the choice of relocating to the managed area or sitting down. This new policy provided fans with a fair choice and was approved by fans’ representatives.

Cardiff City deserves credit for being the first stadium to officially formalise this approach to persistent standing. The solution was specific to the stadium and its fans but the general principles must surely be applicable to other grounds.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.

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