A cross-party group of Welsh Assembly members have penned an open letter to Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, calling for a pilot of safe standing.
UK Government legislation currently outlaws standing areas at stadiums in the top two divisions of professional football. Andrew RT Davies, who recently hosted a visit from the Safe Standing Roadshow in the senedd, has suggested that the time is right for the UK government to look at the issues again - potentially with a view to amending the legislation to allow for the introduction of a limited trial of safe standing areas.
The letter comes on the back of the news we reported in July of the National Assembly for Wales giving their official backing to the FSF's Safe Standing Campaign. The letter has been signed by Andrew RT Davies (Conservative), Ann Jones AM (Labour), Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid Cymru) and Aled Roberts AM (Liberal Democrat).
We write in relation to the issue of safe standing at football stadiums in the UK – an area which is governed by UK Government legislation.
The issue of ‘Safe Standing’ has attracted cross party support here in the National Assembly for Wales and has now been formally endorsed following a vote in the Senedd on the 9th of July.
As you will be only too aware, stadium safety has improved dramatically in recent decades for a number of reasons, including upgraded facilities, modern policing techniques, CCTV, all-ticket policies for major events and a decline in football related violence.
In addition, stadium technology has developed dramatically and innovations such as ‘rail seating’ have meant that football grounds throughout the continent, including in the German Bundesliga, now have dedicated safe standing areas.
It is also now widely recognised that safe standing areas enhance the atmosphere at grounds without compromising safety, could improve access to games for disabled fans, and are backed by an overwhelming 9 in 10 football supporters.
A generation ago football stadiums were very different places and the Taylor Report was produced in the context of a national tragedy. Naturally safety must remain the primary concern, but the football world has moved on and we believe that it is time to reconsider legislation which unfairly stigmatises football supporters.
We have called for a pilot of safe standing to be introduced in Wales to assess the potential for reviewing the legislation which currently governs stadium safety regulations and we would be extremely keen to hear your views on this matter.
Andrew RT Davies AM – Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, South Wales Central
Ann Jones AM – Labour, Vale of Clwyd
Bethan Jenkins AM – Plaid Cymru, South Wales West
Aled Roberts AM – Liberal Democrat, North Wales