Petition calling on the UK Government to allow clubs to introduce safe standing gains ground
Following Tracey Crouch’s rejection of West Bromwich Albion’s rail seating plans and her claim that only a “vocal minority” of fans want safe standing, a petition calling for English Premier League and Championship football clubs to be allowed to introduce safe standing has gained almost 60,000 signatures.
The petition currently stands at 58,249 signatures, well on the way to the 100,000 needed to have the matter considered for a parliamentary debate. It has been signed by fans from all over the country, as can be seen by this heat map:
Interestingly, support is particularly high on Merseyside, where, as you will recall, 88% of nearly 18,000 Liverpool fans voted in favour of rail seating last year and where Everton unveiled designs last week for their new stadium including an area of rail seating.
Among the fans who have signed the petition and publicly declared that they have done so are two Hillsborough family members, David Hughes and Lou Brookes. At 100,ooo signatures, the UK government must consider the matter for debate.
Jon Darch, Operator of the Safe Standing Roadshow, said:
The Sports Minister clearly refuses to listen the safety experts! The West Brom proposal was submitted by the Chair of the Football Safety Officers Association and backed by the club’s Safety Advisory Group, which includes representatives of West Midlands Police and of the government’s own national stadium safety body, the Sports Ground Safety Authority.Despite all these expert safety practitioners agreeing that the club should apply for permission to enhance spectator safety by fitting rail seats, the Minister is flying in the face of this expert advice by suggesting that stewards should force fans to sit down!She said previously that she would review the government’s policy on rail seating when she had evidence from the experience at Celtic. That has been running for two seasons now. The police and safety authorities in Glasgow are very happy with it. Despite this evidence, the Minister appears to think she knows better.She has now compounded her bizarre ruling on West Brom’s proposal by saying that fans calling for rail seating are just a “vocal minority” and claiming that “there is no desire among the top clubs” to change the status quo. Yet in the very same week Richard Arnold, the MD of Manchester United, told Andy Mitten in a piece for ESPN “We support it. We would like to implement it at Old Trafford if the legislation allowed it.”Her actions and out-of-touch comments have roused fans into a response and the 58,000+ who have now signed the government petition calling for clubs to be allowed to introduce safe standing show just how strong the feeling is. It looks well set to become only the 15th petition ever on the government website to secure 100,000 signatures and thus be considered for a parliamentary debate.