Safe standing goes to Hull and back

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Fans in Hull were given the opportunity to see the Safe Standing Roadshow in all its glory before last Saturday’s home game against Bristol City. The visit was organised by Hull City Official Supporters’ Club (HCOSC) with the co-operation of the stadium management company and the full support of the club’s fanzines – Amber Nectar, City Independent (CI), and Vital Hull.

Want the Safe Standing Roadshow to visit your club? Read on to find out how…

The Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign continues and, while surveys show the majority of fans back safe standing, there are still sceptics to win over. One way of doing that is to show them how safe standing areas can work in practice and that’s where the Safe Standing Roadshow comes in.

HCOSC invited the Safe Standing Roadshow after it became apparent more and more fans at the KC Stadium were standing in their seats, particularly around the back of the South and East Stands. HCOSC also noticed away supporters persistently standing and came to the conclusion that safe standing areas were an obvious solution.

Tony Conway, chair of HCOSC, says: “The day went very well although it was very cold! We didn’t hear any dissenting voices and the Safe Standing Roadshow created interest. The stadium management came and were fully supportive of our event as they’d already seen the roadshow elsewhere.

“We contacted a lot of local politicians, council officers, reps from the football police, and club officials – the stadium management company, safety officer, operations director John Cooper, and George Hudson from the commercial department who was very helpful too. HCOSC representative Chris Smith also put a lot of work into this and helped the issue get excellent media coverage. We had great interest from the fanzines too, they were fully supportive.”

Fans of one of the city's rugby league clubs, Hull FC, were also invited as they play at the all-seater KC Stadium and many of their fans would like to stand. Other organisations like Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe United, York City, and rugby league’s York City Knights received notice too. A one-seat safe standing model was set-up in HCOSC’s sports bar enabling them to target fans who preferred a pre-game pint to viewing the outdoor model.

The day was an “overwhelming success” according to CI editor Ian Waterson who said the FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign was first brought to CI’s attention ahead of Don Foster’s Safe Standing Bill. From there CI contacted other online Hull City fanzines who were supportive of the campaign and the momentum gathered.

“This issue did appear to provide common ground from all supporter groups including the HCOSC and all the other Hull City fanzines and organisations. It was something frequently commented on between cross-club supporter organisations and an effort [was made] to bring the roadshow to our club by Hull City fans,” says Ian.

“I think the roadshow can only be seen as an overwhelming success in Hull and the topic is now firmly at the forefront of debate amongst Hull City fans. Job done! But saying that, there is no time to rest on our laurels, we must continue to drive the campaign forward and keep the momentum up in a positive fashion.”

Can the Safe Standing Roadshow visit my club?

The FSF receives many requests from fans who are keen to see the Safe Standing Roadshow at their club. It’s great when supporters show an interest but sending an email alone isn’t enough. Like anything worthwhile there’s work involved so roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

If you want the Safe Standing Roadshow to visit your club you could do a lot worse than follow the fans at Hull's example. Obviously no two clubs are the same and different dynamics will exist between the club, supporters, fans’ groups, and fanzines, but many of the same principles remain.

A step-by-step guide to bringing the Safe Standing Roadshow to your club:

  • Firstly, know your safe standing arguments. Read more via the FSF’s campaigns page, petition summary, and safe standing mythbusters page.
  • Now you’re up-to-speed contact the respected bodies which invariably grow around a football club. Organisations such as independent or official supporters’ clubs, fans’ trusts, websites, forums, blogs, and fanzines. You need to engage and involve as many of these as possible.
  • Contact the Safe Standing Roadshow. It’s still early days but it’s worth checking diaries and pencilling in one or two potential dates. Keep it quiet though, every man and his dog doesn’t need to know yet.
  • Contact your club. In all likelihood someone at one of the fans’ groups or fanzines will have an ‘in’. Use those contacts to run the idea of a visit by the Safe Standing Roadshow. While it’s possible to organise a visit to your area without a club’s support it’s much better if there’s club interest too and they might even host it.
  • Fellow fans and club on board? Great. Get that date in the diary confirmed with everyone and start publicising.
  • Use the contacts and reach that supporters’ clubs, trusts, websites, forums, blogs, and fanzines have. Spread the word in advance and remember to inform the FSF as we can help with that too.
  • Aside from club officials you’ll also want to invite MPs, councillors, relevant council officials, safety officers, and other assorted local dignitaries.
  • Don’t forget the local media – they’ll be interested. The FSF has a Safe Standing Media Pack which we’re happy to share, this will help educate journalists and avoid incorrect assumptions. Fans at Hull City secured a huge amount of coverage from local papers, radio stations, and websites.
  • Don’t forget to take some pictures when the Safe Standing Roadshow’s in town! You’ll want to cover it on club websites or blogs and pictures always help.

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