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Six clubs apply to take part in safe-standing programme

Six football clubs from the Premier League and Championship have applied for their stadiums to form part of a safe-standing trial from January 1.

Successful clubs will be able to offer a licensed safe-standing area as part of an early adopter programme that was announced last month.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston last month instructed the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to take the first steps in creating licensed standing areas at clubs in the top two tiers of English football from January. Clubs which are currently subject to the UK government’s all-seater policy had until yesterday (Wednesday) to apply for the programme.

The SGSA has now confirmed that the application process has concluded, with six unnamed clubs hoping to take part in the programme. The Press Association has reported that the list of approved clubs is set to be announced early next month.

An SGSA spokesperson told the PA: “Applications to become early adopters of licensed standing in seated areas for the 2021-22 season are now closed. The SGSA is now reviewing the applications and will provide advice and recommendations to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for final decision.”

Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and Championship team Cardiff City have confirmed that they have applied to take part in the scheme. Tottenham said it had accepted an invite from the SGSA to apply for a licensed standing area, while Cardiff is installing seats with independent barriers across all seven bays in the back five rows of the Canton Stand at Cardiff City Stadium.

The PA reported that Premier League club Liverpool has not applied to take part and will instead trial its own rail seating area at Anfield. Chelsea and Manchester United have also fitted rail seating areas and it has previously been reported that these two clubs, along with Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bristol City, would be among those to be first in line for the trials.

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 a law was introduced in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.

Image: Manchester United