The FSF's Safe Standing Campaign received a boost today from north of the border with the news that the Scottish Premier League (SPL) will consider requests for pilot safe standing schemes after a general meeting of the league’s 12 clubs.
Scotland is not bound by the legislation that banned standing areas in top-flight football in England, which came in to force after the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. The requirement for all seater stadia in the SPL is only a competition rule, which the SPL’s member clubs have today voted to change.
Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPL, said: “Since I joined the SPL in 2009, there has been widespread support amongst fans to reintroduce safe standing areas. I am delighted that we have been able to respond positively to supporters’ views on improving the match day experience.”
Celtic and Motherwell are among the clubs thought to have expressed interest in the idea, although any applications for standing areas will also have to be approved by local council safety committees and the police.
The FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign co-ordinator, Peter Daykin, said: “We’re delighted that the SPL has engaged with its supporters and reacted to fan demand for safe standing in this way. The setting up of pilot schemes is the next logical step in the safe standing debate, and we will keenly watch developments in Scotland.
“With safe standing areas soon to be appearing so close to home for fans of Premier League and Championship clubs, we can only expect to see the clamour for safe standing in England grow yet further. We would hope that if the Scottish experiment proves to be successful that the Premier League and Football League would join our call for the legislation to be reviewed.”
The move by the SPL is the latest in a series of boosts for the campaign. In the summer the Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis came out in favour of exploring the option of safe standing at the Emirates, while last month John Barrow, one of the world’s leading stadium architects responsible for Wembley Stadium and Soccer City in Johannesburg among others, said that safe standing could be achieved ‘without any problems at all’.
The FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign has also received support from the world of politics with Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster submitting a Private Members Bill to the House of Commons calling for the introduction of safe standing areas. Even cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell, a Manchester United fan and the country’s most senior civil servant, backs safe standing.
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