The recent refusal of the Government to reject West Bromwich Albion’s application to pilot rail-seating technology at the Hawthorns has catapulted the whole issue of Safe Standing into the public arena. The club had asked for permission to install 3,600 rail-seats at the Hawthorns in both the home end and part of the away end. The application had the backing of both the local Safety Advisory Group and West Midlands Police but Sports Minister Tracey Crouch rejected the application – a decision described as ‘short sighted’ by the club-whilst claiming those in favour of Safe Standing to be in the ‘vocal minority’.
The decision comes only a week after a delegation from Liverpool supporters Group ‘Spirit of Shankly’-following on from their membership voting in favour of rail seating following a consultation exercise last year- visited Celtic Park to observe the operation of Rail Seating at Celtic and described the visit as a ‘positive experience’. The visit included attendance at the pre match briefing and questioning of safety staff about management of the rail seating section and their experience so far. Celtic are now in their second season of Rail Seating since its introduction,which has been praised by fans as helping to bring about a better atmosphere and positive match day experience.
The FSF has been long campaigning for the return of Safe Standing, co-ordinating its member groups to demonstrate support for its campaign, and encouraging positive engagement with stakeholders in the debate including fans themselves, clubs, the FA, EFL, Premier league ,ground Safety Authorities ,Police and the DCMS.
The Head of the FSF’s safe standing campaign Peter Daykin commenting on the decision to reject WBA’s application said ‘the whole tenor of the debate on standing has changed massively in recent years, so this really is a disappointing decision. West Brom have done brilliantly in seeking out a solution for those supporters who want to stand and those who want to sit’
Last year Shrewsbury Town were given the go ahead to install rail seating at New Meadow by the Sports Ground Safety Advisory Authority and ironically they could be facing West Brom next season –one club granted permission to install rail seating, one refused.
As a result of the refusal of West Brom’s application and the subsequent comments from Sports Minister Tracey Crouch claiming those in favour to be in the ‘vocal minority’ Safe Standing campaigner Jon Darch launched a petition to ‘allow Premier League and Championship football clubs to introduce safe standing’. Within 24 hours the petition has collected almost 25,000 signatures with 100,000 signatures required for the petition to be considered for debate in parliament.
You can add your signature to the petition at;
Whilst supporting the FSF campaign ourselves for Safe Standing, whether you are in favour or against NUST would encourage fans to sign the petition. The matter is worthy of debate at the highest level.
Newcastle United Supporters Trust