Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis has told supporters he is “open” to the possibility of safe standing areas at the Emirates Stadium and acknowledged the positive impact it could have on atmosphere. The comments came at a Q&A organised by Arsenal Supporters’ Trust last night (Monday 13th June).
“It is something that I have always been open to,” said Gazidis. “The more I learn about it, the more complex an issue it is, but viscerally it is something that I find attractive because it gives fans, a certain group of fans who like to stand who create the atmosphere, another way to be in our stadium.”
Gazidis said that, although there might be practical problems for some clubs in implementing safe standing areas, it was an avenue he was willing to explore. This is in line with Football Supporters’ Federation policy which argues that each club should be able to make its own decision. The FSF believes issues around cost and feasibility should be a matter for individual clubs, not for government, but legislation currently prevents standing in the top two divisions.
“Why would you be against that, if you can do it safely? There are some issues, some very practical issues around safe standing; the rake of the stands and so on, that may make it cost prohibitive if it is not designed into the stadium at the beginning, but it is not something I am close minded to and I am prepared to explore it,” said Gazidis.
Peter Daykin, who heads up the FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign, welcomed Gazidis’ comments: “Ivan Gazidis’ views are really encouraging and proof positive that some of the most significant figures in the game are taking notice of our arguments. We believe we’ve already won the safety argument and this punctures another myth – that clubs will never engage with fans on safe standing.
“We will take advice from our friends at the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, and ultimately see if it is possible to arrange a meeting with Mr Gazidis. He has some understandable concerns around feasibility but we’re confident in our solutions to these issues. Almost twice as many people can be safely housed in a rail seated area and we believe they will pay for themselves within a matter of years.
“The Safe Standing Roadshow – which shows how rail seats work in practice – is also making its way around the UK and we hope Mr Gazidis will welcome it to the Emirates. The Roadshow made its debut at Molineux last month and received an overwhelmingly positive response from an audience which included Wolves’ Chief Executive Jez Moxley and Stadium Manager Steve Sutton.”
The Safe Standing Roadshow will also appear at an open meeting the FSF has arranged in Liverpool on Thursday 23rd June, follow this link for further information. If you’d like the Safe Standing Roadshow to visit your club email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The FSF’s ongoing Safe Standing Campaign aims to give football fans the choice to watch football from a safe standing area, if they so wish, at matches in England and Wales. Every week thousands of fans stand in front of their seats for the duration of the game while following the team they love. Attempts by the authorities to end this practice have failed and the FSF’s National Supporters’ Survey showed that 90% of fans back the choice to stand or sit.
- Every supporter who backs our campaign has a part to play, silence is not an option. Find out what simple steps you can take to help via the FSF’s Six Steps for Safe Standing.
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