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United request permission for rail seating at Old Trafford

Premier League football club Manchester United has made a formal request to introduce rail seating at Old Trafford.

The minutes of United’s most recent fans’ forum meeting on January 31 revealed that the club made a formal proposal to the local Safety Advisory Group in December to request a trial in a “small section” of the stadium.

The rail-seating section would feature up to 1,500 seats in the North East Quadrant of Old Trafford.

The minutes from the meeting read: “Our belief is that the introduction of rail seating will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing.

“The SAG committee is reviewing the request. This is not an automatic approval process. We will discuss the proposal in detail with the relevant authorities and will work through their compliance and review processes.”

United revealed last September that it was exploring the possibility of introducing rail seating at Old Trafford. Following a change in the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s (SGSA) Green Guide, Premier League clubs are now free to install seats incorporating barriers in their grounds in areas where persistent standing is a problem.

United’s fellow Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur fitted rail seating at its new stadium, while Wolverhampton Wanderers last year announced plans to install a new barrier seating solution at Molineux.

Depending on how quickly United receives a response from the SAG, the rail seating could be fitted before the end of the season.

Last week, the SGSA revealed that initial research has indicated that the installation of safe-standing spaces has had a “positive impact” on spectator safety. The SGSA published the emerging findings of independent research on the safe management of standing at football and the results could potentially lead to the official return of standing at grounds in the Premier League and Championship.

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. However, there has been increasing efforts to return safe standing, which has received provisional support from the Football Association (FA), Premier League and English Football League (EFL), as well as from fan groups.