The UK Labour party has backed plans to introduce safe standing at football grounds in the top two divisions of the English game.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the UK government had begun talks over safe standing and the issue is set to be debated in parliament on June 25. Labour has now joined the calls for the plans to be explored.
Safe standing has been outlawed in the top two divisions of English football since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
The BBC reported that Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, the UK’s Shadow Sports Minister, will today (Friday) call for clubs, fans and safety authorities to be involved in any decision-making process.
In comments set to be delivered today, Allin-Khan said: “It’s time for change. Labour’s decision is the result of in-depth consultation with football clubs, fans and safety authorities.
“It’s time to back safe standing. We want to give the power to fans, clubs and local safety authorities, to allow for a small area inside a stadium to be designated for safe standing.
“Clubs, fans and local authorities know their stadium far better than anybody in Whitehall – the decision should rest with them.”
The issue will be debated in parliament later this month after more than 100,000 fans signed a petition calling for Premier League and Championship clubs to introduce safe standing.
Allin-Khan added: “This is about safety. The current system isn’t working, people are standing in unsafe seated areas, and accidents can happen.
“We would allow the installation of specialised rail seating where appropriate, or standing in current seated areas where it can be made safe to do so. The data and extent of the surveys provided by the EFL and fans’ groups clearly shows that fans want safe-standing introduced.”
Third-tier League One team Shrewsbury Town recently installed a safe standing section at its New Meadow stadium, while Scottish Premiership club Celtic has a similar zone at Celtic Park. The all-seater restrictions do not apply to clubs outside of England’s top two divisions.
Image: Jon Darch