One of the challenges for the Safe Standing Campaign is to educate our fellow fans, football industry folk and politicians. They say a picture paints a thousand words and the images below show that safe standing does not mean a return to the dark days of the 80s with vast, crumbling terraces and lethal fences (read more in Safe Standing Mythbusters). Modern technology and methods mean safe standing areas are just that - safe. Find out more below.
1. Rail seats
This is the design which many supporters mean when they say safe standing. It's the design that top-flight clubs seem most likely to adopt. There is a safety barrier and a seat on every row (or two). The seats are locked into an upright position for domestic games and supporters stand between the barriers. For European games, the seats are simply unlocked.
- Below - Bob Symns (chief executive, Peterborough United - middle row, centre) and representatives of Peterborough City Council with Jon Darch (Safe Standing Roadshow) and Hannover 96 staff among rail seats in the AWD Arena (Germany).
In European countries such as Germany, Sweden and Austria, safe standing areas are permitted in top-flight football. Many grounds also host matches in UEFA/FIFA competitions when standing areas are not permitted.
A number of technologies have been developed to allow for stands to be easily converted from standing to seating and back again, where required on a temporary basis. This can happen several times a season with minimal fuss.
One version of the rail seat has a 'lock and latch' mechanism, as shown in the videos below. The key lock enables the stadium operator to lock the seat out of use, if desired, when that area of the ground is to be used for standing, while, when unlocked, the latch mechanism enables the spectator to lower and raise the seat and put it up 'on the latch' as necessary for ease of access and to pass along the row.
2. Clip on seats e.g. Bochum (below)
With this model standing areas include safety barriers every few rows which are easily removable when converted to all-seating. Seats can then be attached to every second row as there's a metal clip on every second step. Seats can be unclipped afterwards and the barriers re-inserted after a game which required an all-seater stadium. Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion uses similar technology on the lower section of its South Stand (while using rail seats on the rear section) and boasts the largest free-standing grandstand in Europe.
3. Foldaway seats e.g. Hamburg (below)
Hamburg’s ultra-modern AOL Arena includes 10,000 standing spaces and 45,000 seats. As at Bochum, the barriers are easily removable when the stadium is in all-seater mode but the main difference is that when the stand is in standing mode, the seats fold away. Notice that every other step is made of metal? The seats are under the metal steps. This is not going to be suitable for many clubs but it is another option.
Options #2 and #3 are shown for the purpose of providing an exhaustive description of what might be considered 'safe standing' by people familiar with German grounds. They are not necessarily the most suitable options for UK grounds and clubs seem to prefer the rail seat model.
- Read more about the FSF's Safe Standing Campaign here.