Premier League football club Newcastle United has announced that safe standing will be introduced for home fans at St. James’ Park as part of an initial trial period at the start of the 2023-24 season.
A designated licensed standing section with space for around 1,800 home supporters will be installed in the South East corner of the stadium. The space will include the lower section of block B and the upper sections of blocks C, D, E and F, while a similar provision will be installed for visiting supporters on Level 7 of the Leazes End.
The announcement follows a consultation process during which more than 4,000 fans responded to an online survey. Seventy fans also attended a subsequent working group session at St. James’ Park to provide more detailed feedback.
Of those surveyed online, 75% were in favour of licensed standing being introduced at St. James Park, with the South East corner and Gallowgate End identified as the preferred location by more than 70% of respondents.
Newcastle said that it has monitored existing safe standing trials at other stadiums in England, such as Wembley Stadium. Newcastle fans were able to sample safe standing during the recent Carabao Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley.
The club has now contacted all affected supporters via email, giving them the opportunity to remain as part of the trial at St. James’ Park or opt out. Should seats become available for other season ticket holders to move to the licensed standing area, the club will communicate this in due course.
Newcastle announced last July that it had committed to the concept of safe standing, initially for away fans. A rail seating provision was installed in the visitors’ section of St. James’ Park last summer following guidance from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).
The club said at the time that it would look to introduce a similar provision for home fans, and these plans have now been confirmed.
Teams across the Premier League and Championship have been able to introduce safe-standing areas since the start of the season after former UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston approved the wider roll-out last summer.
Five clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City – were chosen to trial licensed safe-standing areas from January 1 last year, and since the start of this season all other teams across the top two divisions have been able to follow suit.
Standing had previously not been permitted in the top two leagues of English football since a law was introduced in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.