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Industry News

Parliament set to debate safe standing as petition passes 100,000

MPs in the House of Commons are to consider debating whether football clubs in the English Premier League and Championship can introduce safe standing to their home stadia after a petition calling for such a move surpassed 100,000 signatures.

Current laws in the UK mean that should a public petition reach or surpass this landmark, the issue must be considered for a proper debate in parliament.

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.

However, a number of clubs have recently expressed an interest in introducing safe standing to their stadia.

Thanking fans for their backing, the Football Supporters’ Federation said: “We would like to thank every last fan who signed the petition and helped take standing to Parliament – the sheer number of fans involved shows the strength of feeling on an issue that isn’t going away.

“This is not just a ‘vocal minority’ as the sports minister presumed – the overwhelming majority of fans back the choice to sit or stand, as do most clubs and a growing number of MPs who will look forward to the debate.”

According to the BBC, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch also thanked football fans for “expressing their views on this issue”.

Crouch added: “This will now give me the opportunity to discuss at length the nuances and complexities of sports ground safety in Parliament, if and when the Petitions Committee agree to it being debated.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers, which recently won promotion to the Premier League after clinching the Championship title, is the latest club to declare its interest in introducing safe standing.

Laurie Dalrymple, managing director at Wolves, said the club would be open to trialling rail seating at its Molineux stadium, should the opportunity present itself.

Dalrymple added: “As a club, we would certainly welcome the opportunity to be part of any safe-standing pilot-scheme given the green light by the government, football’s governing bodies and the Sports Ground Safety Authority.

“The Chairman and I have been open in interviews, and in meetings with supporters, about plans to develop and expand Molineux in the coming years, and it would be remiss of us to not explore the possibility of rail-seating being part of those plans.

“We have all been watching the trial at Celtic with great interest, and the feedback there seems to be overwhelmingly positive in terms of atmosphere, safety and security.”

Dalrymple also referenced a recent failed effort by Premier League team West Bromwich Albion to introduce safe standing at its Hawthorns stadium, with Crouch at the time saying there were no plans to change the current laws.

Dalrymple said: “Whilst West Brom’s recent proposal may have been rejected by the DCMS, it is clear momentum is gathering in favour of those who want to see a safe-standing solution at least trialled in English football’s top tiers, and we would very much like to be a part of that when it happens.”