London Stadium has seen the installation of safety rail systems ahead of trials of standing spectators at Premier League grounds.
West Ham United’s stadium is being fitted with safety rails for more than 3,000 spectators, with the bespoke systems already being used across football fixtures at the venue.
London Stadium officials began discussions with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) in 2020 borne out of concerns over persistent standing in certain areas of the venue. Since then, a modular rail system has been developed by Arena following an open tender process.
The re-introduction of a safe standing environment is seen as a key step towards improving fans’ matchday experience at London Stadium.
Alan Skewis, head of capital projects at London Stadium, stated: “When drawing up our specification it was clear that an off-the-shelf product would not work. Arena understood that all stadia are different, so we are delighted with the bespoke design that reflects the venue’s elliptical nature, seat rake and loading requirements. Arena worked with us to deliver an efficient, effective solution that meets our needs and enhances the spectator experience.”
Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City of the Championship will be licensed to allow ‘safe standing’ in seated areas from January 1, 2022.
The five clubs will be the first in the top two tiers of football in England and Wales to allow standing in nearly 30 years.
Rules include that the seats cannot be locked in the ‘up’ or ‘down’ position, allowing fans the option of being able to sit. There must also be one seat/space per person and a code of conduct in place for fans in the licensed standing area.
Martyn Henderson, chief executive of the SGSA, said: “The focus of the SGSA is the safety of all fans at sports grounds. We know there is a safety risk arising from fans who persistently stand in seated areas, demonstrated in independent research. We also know many fans want the choice to stand.
“The advent of new engineering solutions and the findings from our research has shown this can be managed safely. This announcement will enable us to properly test and evaluate licensed standing areas and advise the Government in its next steps.
“We are taking a careful, evidence-based approach to this historic change, again using independent researchers to evaluate any lessons to be learnt.”