Government’s safe standing inertia could lead to “war on fans”

Gallowgate flags St James Park Photo FSF

The Government’s current position on safe standing will lead to a “war on fans” according to the head of the FSF safe standing campaign.

FSF safe standing co-ordinator Peter Daykin says the Government’s refusal to review the current legislation has left the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch isolated – her calls to see all-seater regulations enforced more strictly against standing fans flying in the face of work done by safety figures across the football industry.

Daykin warned that the Government’s inaction could lead to another attempt at forcing fans to sit down in seated areas, an approach that has comprehensively failed in the past.

“The overwhelming mood among club facilities managers, safety officers and police is that the status quo isn’t working and the problem isn’t going away,” Daykin said.

“As the Sports Minister says she won’t consider legislative change the clubs have two options – declare war on fans by forcing them to sit or ignore the law.

“Both options are extremely problematic. Forcing fans to sit simply doesn’t work and has caused countless problems over the last 15 years.

“While ignoring the law currently leads to customer care issues where clubs don’t have the freedom to meet their supporters’ needs.”

This week the Premier League conceded for the first time publicly that the majority of football supporters want the choice between standing and sitting accommodation to be made available.

In its statement, the league claimed that only 5% of supporters want to stand for an entire football match – something that is at odds with years of data gathered by fan groups across the country and the observable reality at football grounds every weekend.

“It’s good to see the Premier League publicly say something about safe standing that isn’t a straight ‘no’ and we’d encourage them to continue looking at the evidence,” Daykin said. “That leaves the Government and Sports Minister as the sole barrier to offering supporters in the top two divisions real choice in how they want to watch their football.”

Meanwhile, at the time of writing, a supporter-led petition to get the issue debated in Parliament was approaching 80,000 signatures.