Manchester United will explore the possibility of introducing rail seating at Old Trafford in a move that has been welcomed by the Premier League club’s supporters trust.
United has released the minutes of its recent fans’ forum, where the subject of safe standing was discussed. During the meeting, United’s director of venue operations Jim Liggett confirmed that the club would be undertaking a “detailed and comprehensive study” on the feasibility of installing a rail seating trial area at Old Trafford.
Liggett added that United would work closely with all relevant stakeholders including the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and its local Safety Advisory Group.
“As we have communicated to our fans and to the Premier League in the past, as a club we support the idea of rail seating in principle,” said Liggett. “A large majority of our supporters are also in favour, as evidenced by previous surveys. However, we recognise that it is a complex subject, and our number one priority will always be the safety of our supporters and compliance with legislation.”
Following a change in the SGSA’s Green Guide, Premier League clubs are now free to install seats incorporating barriers in their grounds in areas where persistent standing is a problem.
Tottenham Hotspur fitted rail seating at its recently-opened new stadium, while fellow Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this year claimed a first for the league by announcing plans to install a new barrier seating solution at Molineux. Liggett said that United has been in dialogue with both Tottenham and Wolves to understand the process they went through.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust has said safe standing at Old Trafford would “likely benefit atmosphere but also enhance spectator safety” in areas where fans persistently stand.
The Trust added: “As a supporters’ group, naturally supporter safety is our number one priority, so we hope that this added safety measure is put in place sooner rather than later. Every game that passes without rail seats in place to prevent fans at Old Trafford getting injured falling over the existing conventional seats is an opportunity missed to make the stadium a safer place.”