Doncaster Rovers back FSF Safe Standing Campaign

Every Friday for the past month we have been able to announce that at least one new club has announced its support for the FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign. We’re very pleased to say that this Friday is no different and the latest club to back the call for safe standing trials are Doncaster Rovers. Welcome aboard.

The Vikings join an ever-growing list which includes Aston Villa, Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Hull City, Peterborough United, Watford, AFC Wimbledon and the Scottish Premier League.

Gavin Baldwin, chief executive of Doncaster Rovers, said: “During the 2006/07 season Doncaster Rovers moved into an all-seater stadium and since that time the club have implemented a no standing policy at home games. After continued dialogue with supporters through our fan engagement programme, In Rovers We Trust, it has become clear that a selection of supporters do wish to stand at matches.

“The club believe that the creation of a safe standing area at the ground would allow these supporters to stand in a safe, controlled environment and allow them to have a match day experience that suits their needs. The club believe the creation of a safe standing area would also be of benefit to other fans at the ground who do not wish to stand, but sometimes are compelled at games due to having their view restricted due to people in front of them who attempt to.

“We lend our support to the Football Supporters' Federation in their request for trials for safe standing systems.”

Safe standing? No problem

It’s not just fans and clubs who back safe standing – so do a long line of safety experts, architects and politicians. In November 2011 John Barrow of architects Populous said safe standing areas could be introduced “without any problems at all”.

“We as designers have no problem with standing at all. It would clearly need to be legislated for, managed, and safely stewarded, but in terms of safety it can be done without any problems at all in small areas,” said Barrow speaking at the International Football Arena conference.

“It is great to have standing areas. They increase excitement in stadiums, particularly behind the goals. If the legislation is there to allow the top clubs to have standing areas again, it could help the clubs who are looking to expand capacity and allow more young people in,”

Barrow played a key role in designing Wembley, designed stadiums for Euro 2004 as well as Soccer City in Johannesburg which hosted the 2010 World Cup final.

In June 2011 Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said he was “open” to the possibility of safe standing areas at the Emirates and acknowledged the positive impact it could have on atmosphere.

“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.”

In the same month Professor Steve Frosdick, founder member of the UK Football Safety Officers’ Association (FSOA) and noted expert in crowd safety, backed the FSF’s campaign at a specially arranged event in Liverpool. Current FSOA president Jim Chalmers has also said “there is no reason why safe standing cannot exist in our top two divisions if there is a will to allow this at government level”.

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