Professor Steve Frosdick, founder member of the UK Football Safety Officers' Association and noted expert in crowd safety, has backed the FSF's campaign for rail seating to be allowed as a safe standing alternative to all seater stadia in the top two divisions.
Professor Frosdick, speaking at the FSF's open meeting on safe standing held in Liverpool on Thursday 23rd June, said: “I think they've got an irrefutable case to allow clubs and fans the choice of having rail seating.
“I have spent the whole of my professional life working to make football grounds safer places for football fans to enjoy their sport, and I would never associate myself with anything that would be to the detriment of the safety and welfare of football supporters.”
The event gave fans on both sides of the argument a chance to air their views and put their questions, in what was a lively and well-informed debate, to an expert panel which included FSF Chair Malcolm Clarke.
Merseyside video production company StickMedia produced a report on the event which they have very kindly allowed us to show below.
Questions and comments from a knowledgeable audience included the technical issue of retro-fitting safe standing areas to current stadia, accessibility and suitability for children, and ticket prices, as people with all manner of backgrounds, supporting a number of different teams had their say.
Fans and the media were also given the chance to see a life-size model of a rail seating area as part of the Safe Standing Roadshow (see pic from Wolves event). The debate certainly benefitted from this as a number of the points raised during the evening were followed up with a demonstration and viewing of the rail seat model.
A lot of the initial discussion centred on the safety of the proposed model. This allowed the panel, which included safety expert Professor Steve Frosdick and Liverpool season ticket holder and safe standing advocate Paul Jones, to dispel a number of the myths propagated with regards to the FSF campaign, particularly the idea that the campaign is asking fans to “go back to terraces”.
Steve Frosdick was clear that he was happy to back the rail seat model as in his professional judgement the FSF proposals were safe. He also pointed out that many people’s concerns about the areas (ticket prices, how they were to be paid for, how the areas would be sold and managed) were not technical questions of safety but challenges for the clubs to be concerned with in terms of implementation and customer service.
Paul Jones’ main thrust was aimed at the fact that the rail seating model would augment safety for the thousands of fans who stand at matches at the moment. He contended that rails between each row would prevent any number of accidents and potential injuries, where fans could fall over onto the row(s) in front in moments of celebration.
Some of those in attendance clearly bore the historical legacy of Hillsborough and the debate was always likely to be emotive. And while there were comments beforehand that holding a safe standing meeting in the shadow of Anfield seemed insensitive, the debate was largely frank, honest and open-minded, and a number of good points were made from the floor both by those in support of safe-standing and those against.
A number of those in the crowd spoke of their experiences at the Leppings Lane End of Hillsborough in 1989, and their opinions on safe standing covered the whole spectrum from full-hearted support through to cautious acceptance and outright opposition.
The event received much media coverage from the likes of BBC North West, Five Live, Talksport, Sky Sports, and other local media such as the Liverpool Echo.
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