United to apply for safe-standing scheme

Manchester United has become the latest English Premier League club to confirm it will apply to be part of a safe-standing scheme at its stadium.

The club confirmed at a Fans’ Forum on Friday that an application will be lodged with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to participate in the national safe-standing trials in 2022.

UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston announced last week that the government is taking the first steps towards creating licensed standing areas at Premier League and Championship stadiums from January 1.

One of the conditions of the trial will be that there are designated safe-standing areas in both the home and away sections of the stadium.

“To ensure that the club is ready to be considered as an ‘early adopter’, planning is under way to install around 500 barrier seats in the away section at Old Trafford in November,” the club said.

“This leads on from the installation of 1,519 barrier seats in the home section of the North East quadrant during the summer – another initiative which emerged from the work of the Fans’ Forum.”

United added that, subject to the club being selected for the trial, the club is committed to reviewing other areas that may be suitable for barrier seats, including the Stretford End lower stand and the south west quadrant.

Addressing the Fans’ Forum, Collette Roche, chief operating officer, said: “In the summer, just over 1,500 barrier seats were installed and the Government have now announced that they are looking to run safe-standing trials from the first of January. We are in a really good position to apply for what they call ‘early adopter’ status. We’ve done that, and we’ll do everything that we need to do to make sure we are top of the list and are ready to be part of the early adopter trial.

“We will now wait to see whether we will be approved, but I am confident that we’ll be able to deliver everything against the SGSA criteria.”

For those clubs who are accepted into the ‘early adopter’ process, the licensed standing areas will be independently evaluated from their introduction in January for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

Last week, United’s Premier League rival Tottenham Hotspur and Championship team Cardiff City announced their intention to apply to join the scheme.

Image: Manchester United