The prospect of safe standing being introduced into English football stadia for next season is receding amid an ongoing independent review into the matter, according to multiple reports.

UK newspaper the Daily Mail said CFE Research, an independent social research company, is currently carrying out a review into all available evidence concerning the current all-seater policy, including changes to seating and stadium design and incidents at stadia.

The 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 Mail said CFE’s review will not be finished by the end of the year, as had originally been hoped. Initial analysis work will reportedly be completed by the end of December, which will then allow for the identification of gaps in research and further work. Any subsequent change to legislation would then take months, meaning the 2020-21 season is a more likely target for introduction.

There has been a growing call from fans’ groups, certain clubs and the sport’s authorities for the law to be reassessed. In August, the Football Association expressed its support for safe standing. The FA’s backing joined that of the Premier League and the English Football League, which operates the three divisions below the top flight.

Earlier this week, Wycombe Wanderers claimed a first for English football after the League One club installed new 2020 seating at Adams Park. The new 2020 seat has been produced by Grand Stand Seating Systems in conjunction with Alderdale seating, giving fans the option of standing or sitting during games without having an obscured view of the pitch.

Image: Jon Darch