Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur and Championship team Cardiff City have confirmed they will apply for a scheme to pilot safe standing areas in their stadia this season.

Tottenham said it has accepted an invite from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) to apply for a licenced standing area at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as part of the ‘early adopter’ programme.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opened in April 2019 with areas future-proofed for safe standing in its South Stand and away supporter section. Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, said: “The club has led on lobbying the Government for safe standing at stadia and is delighted that this will now be possible.

“It delivers choice for fans attending the game – whether home or away supporters – and the vast majority of our fans are in favour of this scheme. We are extremely proud of our ‘safe seating’ design, which ensures both comfort and safety, whether standing or seated, while maintaining the same aesthetics as in all other areas of the stadium.”

Clubs have until October 6 to submit an application to the SGSA to become an early adopter. If approved, they will be able to offer licensed standing areas from January 1. Clubs will have to meet a number of criteria in order to receive Government and SGSA approval to have licensed standing areas, including:

• The necessary infrastructure being in place – such as seats with barriers/independent barriers – which must be in both home and away sections.
• Fans must be able to sit or stand in the licensed area – the seats cannot be locked in the ‘up’ or ‘down’ position. There must also be one seat/space per person.
• The licensed standing areas must not impact the viewing standards or other fans, including disabled fans.
• There must be a Code of Conduct in place for fans in the licensed standing area.
• The ground must consult with its Safety Advisory Group about plans for the licensed standing areas.

The licensed standing areas will be independently evaluated for their introduction in January for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Other parts of the ground will remain all-seated and fans will be expected to sit in these areas.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston on Wednesday instructed the SGSA to take the first steps in creating licensed standing areas at clubs in the Premier League and Championship from January 1. Clubs which are currently subject to the Government’s all-seater policy were invited to apply to offer licensed standing areas as part of the early adopter programme.

Spurs and Cardiff were reported amongst the clubs most likely to be first in line for the trials. Cardiff said it is installing seats with independent barriers across all seven bays of the back five rows of the Canton Stand, offering a safe standing option to supporters in this area this season at Cardiff City Stadium.

Cardiff contributed to a CFE Research report as one of six case study sites, alongside Tottenham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford and Celtic. Cardiff said that while club policy will remain unchanged in the Ninian Stand, Grandstand and Family Stand, where persistent standing is not allowed, the Canton Stand meets the CFE Research definition of a “tolerated standing area”.

Cardiff added: “Further safe standing is planned to be introduced in the away end in 2022-23. As in previous seasons, the club will commission an independent inspection of these arrangements at one or more matches during the 2021-22 season. The reports of these inspections will be provided to the local Safety Advisory Group and published online.”

The introduction of the licensed standing areas follows research carried out during the 2019-20 season, which found that seats with barriers/independent barriers helped reduce the safety risks related to persistent standing.

Standing has been outlawed in the top two leagues of English football since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.

Image: Paul Hudson/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size