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Time to make a stand on seating.

Byline: THE GAZETTE FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2015 us on Facebook Philip Tallentire THE GAZETTE FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2015 Follow us on Twitter @EveningGazette Philip Tallentire

WITH Boro playing at Griffin Park tomorrow, the issue of safe standing raises its head again.

A year ago, the Football League said they were prepared to allow standing to be re-introduced if the member clubs voted for it, but a resolution seems as far away as ever.

Of course, standing has never truly gone away. A significant number of lower league clubs have terracing, including Hartlepool.

Brentford also have standing areas but, as a newly promoted club, they are allowed a set amount of time to bring their ground up to scratch.

In recent seasons, Boro fans have stood at Peterborough and Yeovil without experiencing any problems. In fact, the word coming back from a lot of supporters is they enjoyed standing and preferred it to sitting.

At the moment, the issue is being fudged.

Spectators in all-seated areas stand throughout games all over the country, particularly behind the goals. The Boro fans stood throughout the entire match at the Etihad Stadium and their constant singing created a terrific atmosphere.

Surely, though, it's better to have areas specifically designed for standing rather than turning a blind eye when fans stand up in seated areas? If fans want to stand, why stop them? No one is suggesting a return to the sort of grim terracing grounds offered spectators in the 1970s and 1980s.

It took tragedies like Hillsborough, when 96 fans died at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989, to force English football to get its house in order.

But the German model shows it's possible to offer supporters a choice between sitting and standing.

Tried and tested technology exists that enables seated areas to be easily turned into safe terracing.

It now seems inevitable that a trial of "safe standing" will take place at a major club in the not too distant future.

The Football League last year withdrew its objection to standing in principle and canvassed the 72 clubs outside the top flight asking for feedback on the issue.

Speaking at the time Peter Daykin, safe-standing co-ordinator for the Football Supporters' Federation, welcomed the Football League's decision to discuss safe standing.

He said: "It's a very significant development in the campaign for standing areas in football.

"We're approaching 25 years since the approaching 25 years since the W Hillsborough disaster. and both football and policing technology is a completely different ball game now."

Of course, standing is a hugely emotive subject in this country because of the Hillsborough disaster. It has now been accepted that the cause of the tragedy wasn't simply the existence of terracing, but the loss of life did lead to the banning of standing at all grounds in the top two divisions.

Bizarrely though, standing was never banned in other sports or, indeed, in the bottom two divisions of the Football League.

You can stand at a top flight rugby league or union fixture, for example. The outrage that accompanies any suggestion to re-introduce standing into the Premier League rarely acknowledges that fact.

If standing is inherently dangerous then surely there should be a blanket ban in the UK? It's either dangerous or it isn't.


Standing is not an issue at top-flight rugby matches, so why is it still a problem for football?
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Title Annotation:Sport; Opinion Columns
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 30, 2015
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