Clubs in football’s English Premier League have asked for more evidence to be presented on the merits of safe standing.

The matter has been hotly debated in recent weeks after Premier League team West Bromwich Albion saw its hopes of introducing a rail-seating section at The Hawthorns dismissed by the UK government.

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said at the time that there are no current plans to change the all-seater policy in place at football stadia. Mark Miles, West Brom’s director of operations, described Crouch’s decision to block the move as “short-sighted”.

A petition calling for safe standing to be introduced at Premier League and Championship grounds was subsequently launched and at the time of writing it has gathered more than 71,000 signatures. The government is required to respond to all petitions that receive more than 100,000 signatures.

Standing at matches was outlawed in the top two divisions of English football following the Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

The Premier League has said that more research is needed before any decision is made on the introduction of safe standing. Clubs discussed the matter at a meeting last week.

“This subject is complex and nuanced and clearly requires more research,” the league said in a statement reported by the BBC.

The statement added: “The results so far suggest a majority of fans like the idea of standing areas in principle but only five per cent want to stand for an entire match.

“Additionally, the majority want the option of being able to stand and sit. Taking this into account, we understand and appreciate why the Minister for Sport would require far more evidence before considering a change to the current all-seater policy.”

West Brom had hoped to add a rail-seating area in the Smethwick End at The Hawthorns.

A rail-seating section is used successfully at Scottish Premiership club Celtic’s home ground, and in Germany at Bundesliga clubs such as Werder Bremen, Hamburg, VfL Wolfsburg, Hannover 96 and Borussia Dortmund.

Image: Jon Darch