Research commissioned by the Government looking into possible reform of the all-seater legislation has concluded that more trials of standing areas in the top-flight are needed.
The review into standing at football was launched back in June 2018 by then Sports Minister Tracey Crouch following a summer of intense campaigning from supporters – culminating in a Government petition signed by more than 112,000 fans.
Published on Thursday evening, the report led by Dr Jo Welford at CFE Research, says: “Any change to current policy must be based on robust evidence that such a change would ensure equivalent or improved spectator safety.”
Dr Welford’s report recommends monitoring further trials of different standing areas to provide further evidence.
“There is not a robust body of evidence reviewed here to suggest that standing in its current form, either on traditional terracing or modern dual-purpose options, is any more or less safe than sitting,” report says.
“The tension between enforcement of the policy, and the measures required to ensure spectator safety, is evident in the crowd management approaches adopted by a number of clubs that focus predominantly on keeping aisles and exit routes clear, and may suggest that the policy is challenging to implement.”
We provided evidence to Dr Welford’s work showing the increasingly vocal demand, from fans of all ages and genders, for the choice between sitting and standing at the match being made available.
This summer Wolverhampton Wanderers installed more than 5,000 rail seats in the south stand at Molineux, becoming the first Premier League club to retrofit rail-seating type accommodation into an existing stand. Tottenham Hotspur also installed seats with barriers at their new stadium last season.
The FSA hopes that the opportunity to observe such a large installation of rail seats at the highest level of the game provides data that can accelerate reform of the all-seater legislation.
FSA Stand Up For Choice campaign co-ordinator Peter Daykin said: "Those supporters who stand at the match, week in, week out, will naturally be disappointed this report hasn't recommended immediate reform of the out-dated all-seater legislation.
"However, it is progress - this is the first time the Government has done anything about the issue of standing at football since 1989 so that's good news in our eyes.
"We've always said reform should be based on facts and evidence - everyone has to be happy that this is safe and considered - but fully expect our long-held position, that standing at the match is perfectly legitimate, to be fully proven."
Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this story.