Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven are to become the first Dutch club to create a dedicated safe standing area in an all-seater stadium in Holland.
Safestanding Roadshow co-ordinator Jon Darch spoke to club head of safety Marc van de Laar about their plans...
This summer the Dutch top-flight club will take out all 2,800 conventional seats in the lower tier of the East Stand of the Philips Stadion and replace them with the same number of ‘rail seats’.
PSV say that they are doing this both as a direct reward for their fans for the great support they have given the team in recent months and as a measure designed to enhance spectator safety.
"Our fans have definitely contributed to the fact that we have reached the Champions League last sixteen," says general manager Toon Gerbrands.
"The atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic for every game and that has a stimulating effect on the players. Creating the safe standing area is a direct reward for the tremendous support we have received."
The East Stand lower tier has been chosen as the location for the safe standing area, as this is where PSV’s most vocal fans gather. And, of course, they stand. Behind conventional low-backed seats. A fact that the club realises can lead to cuts and bruises if fans topple forward over the backs of such seats when wildly celebrating a goal.
“The waist-high rail incorporated into rail seats will totally eliminate any risk of fans falling forward in this way,” says head of safety Marc van de Laar.
“We want to ensure that the fans who provide such vibrant support and are most likely to keep standing throughout matches are accommodated in a better, safer way.
The installation of rail seats will enable us to achieve that goal, while giving us the flexibility to revert quickly and easily to an all-seater configuration for Champions League matches and any other games or events at which standing is either not allowed or desired.”
While the space-saving design of rail seating provides sufficient extra room to enable an increase in capacity when used for standing, PSV will be leaving the East Stand lower tier capacity unchanged.
“We decided not to increase the capacity, but simply to replace the old low-backed seats with the new ones incorporating the waist-high rail, as one of our key motivations for this stadium upgrade is spectator safety, not extra revenue,” explains van de Laar.
The new seats are due to be installed this summer, with the safe standing area due to open at the start of next season.
Top Dutch clubs have in the past not had standing areas in their stadia in order to comply with UEFA all-seater rules for matches in their competitions. However, they have not been barred from introducing standing areas, subject to approval from the Dutch FA and their local authority. Rail seating enables them to comply with UEFA regulations and satisfy Dutch FA and local authority requirements.
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Thanks to Action Images for the picture used in this blog.