UK Sports Minister Nigel Adams has pledged that the government will look to make progress on reforming the all-seater legislation that covers football stadia in the Premier League and Championship.
The Daily Mail newspaper reports that the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) has commissioned an independent study into risks presented by standing at football stadia amid calls for the all-seater legislation to be reviewed.
Standing areas at football stadia in English football’s top two divisions has been outlawed since the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Guidance released by the SGSA in 2018 indicated that ‘seats incorporating barriers’ could be installed and still meet the government’s policy, as long as strict conditions are adhered to.
The Mail now reports that the SGSA will send an interim report to Adams this week as the government looks to deliver on its pledge to discuss safe-standing options with clubs. The newspaper notes that the results of the interim report will not be published, with a full report to be sent in the summer. Safe-standing areas could then be introduced for the 2021-22 season.
The SGSA is visiting a number of grounds over the course of the season to carry out its research before reporting back to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).
Adams told the Mail: “We want to deliver on our promise in the manifesto. I am looking forward to having the SGSA interim report and once I get that report, we will be able to consider the evidence. We need to be guided by the evidence and be mindful of everyone; the fans, the Hillsborough families. Clearly, the most important thing is the safety of fans and people at grounds.
“I will take a decision when we have managed to analyse what the SGSA has said, but we are very keen to deliver on it. We need to consider the report but we will act on it quickly.”
In October, the DCMS released the results of a review into evidence relating to the all-seater policy and any gaps that exist in the data, which called for fresh research into safe standing.
The analysis was commissioned by the former Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch and conducted by CFE Research. The report found “significant gaps in the current understanding of standing at football” and that there was “significant scope for further research” into the matter.
Several clubs, including the Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers (pictured), have expressed a desire to explore the introduction of safe standing.