The English Football Association has expressed its support for safe standing in what could mark a significant step towards the policy being adopted in stadia across the country.

It comes after the UK government announced in June that it had commissioned an official review into safe standing at football stadia. Safe standing has been outlawed in the top two leagues of English football since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

The FA’s backing joins that of the Premier League and the English Football League, which operates the three divisions below the top flight. According to The Times, the FA is currently preparing to tell a government review that it supports clubs being able to choose to have safe-standing areas – should the inquiry find that the move would be viable.

A spokeswoman told The Times: “The FA supported the announcement from sports minister Tracey Crouch in June to conduct an ‘external analysis of evidence in relation to the all-seater policy’ and supports clubs and leagues in having the option to choose whether they wish to provide standing options for supporters should there be clear evidence that satisfies the authorities over safety and security.”

Responding to the news, the Football Supporters’ Federation said it is positive that all governing bodies have now given their stance on the matter. “The FA understands the issues all too well,” Peter Daykin, co-ordinator of the FSF’s standing campaign, said.

“The government said it wouldn’t move until all the football authorities spoke with one voice, which is understandable, but now they are, all eyes are on the review. We are happy for the government to take its time with the review. We want a thorough understanding of all the arguments and it’s too important an issue to rush.”

The government review into safe standing is expected to be concluded by the end of 2018.

Image: Jon Darch