Standing ban is "anachronism" says top think tank

Celtic safe standing day1 Greg Mitch

A new report published by the free-market think tank the Adam Smith Institute is calling on the Government to repeal the ban on standing areas in top flight football.

The report urges the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, to intervene and lift the ban - a ministerial act that requires no additional legislation - so that clubs can convert all-seated areas into safe standing zones.

Like many surveys and reports before it, the Adam Smith Institute research shows that safe standing is immensely popular amongst football fans.  

Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said: "The standing ban is an anachronism: clubs across Europe have rail seating sections with no incident, creating superior atmosphere and allowing for a cheaper tier of tickets. Just look at Dortmund’s üdtribüne!

"Unlike the adversarial attitude police, club organisations and fans had during the dark days of the 80s, we now know how to manage large crowds well.

"The ban doesn’t fit. Tracey Crouch doesn’t need to pass a law, she has the power to simply undo the prohibition on safe standing—and she should."

Their research also argues that safe standing areas would allow some clubs to lower ticket prices, increase capacities and offer more "stretch" pricing.

The FSF's safe standing campaign co-ordinator, Peter Daykin, welcomed the research from the Adam Smith Institute. 

"It’s pleasing to see yet more solid research supporting the case for safe standing." he said. "It shows once more that lifting the ban on standing areas in England and Wales would be immensely popular.

 "We fully support the Adam Smith Institute’s call for the Sports Minister to lift the ban on standing areas in the Premier League and Championship – allowing clubs to give football fans what they want and convert existing all-seated areas into safe standing zones, if they wish.

 "The debate continues to move on, as Celtic have shown what’s possible. The legislation is falling behind the rest of the country and we’d urge the Government to consider the Adam Smith Institute’s report carefully."

Celtic were able to install rail seats at Celtic Park as stadium safety powers are devolved to Scotland - so the local safety group was free to give the go-ahead, unlike in England and Wales.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies has been campaigning for similar powers to be given to the Welsh Assembly, which would pave the way for a safe standing trial in Wales.

"We would love to see a limited pilot at grounds here in Wales," Davies said. "Now we have an opportunity to address this discriminatory ruling which sees football fans treated in a way that fans of other sports are not."

Davies is once again calling on Westminster to hold a pilot in Wales to assess safe standing more closely. 

Thanks to Greg Mitchell for the image used in this article.