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Fan Experience

Old Trafford expanding ‘safe standing’ areas ahead of new season

Rail seating at Old Trafford

Featured image credit: Manchester United

Manchester United is to add more than 2,000 new rail seats in Old Trafford ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The installation of 2,100 new rail seats takes the total to more than 6,000 in the stadium’s ‘safe standing’ areas. The expansion comes after the club was granted a licence by the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to continue offering safe standing following an initial trial, which began after rails seats were installed in 2021.

The additional rail seats will be in the south-west quadrant of the stadium, adjoining the Stretford End. Installation is due to be completed ahead of the club’s first home Premier League fixture of 2023-24 against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, August 14.

Rick McGagh, Manchester United head of fan engagement, said: “We believe safe-standing areas give fans choice about how they watch the game, and increase safety in areas where persistent standing has historically occurred.

“It is something our fans have long campaigned for and we are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback from supporters who have stood in the areas we have operated for the past 18 months.”

United has been expanding safe standing around Old Trafford since early 2022, when the stadium was one of five around England chosen for an initial trial, which began with 1,500 rail seats within the north-east quadrant and 2,500 in the away section.

Following the successful trial, the club was granted a licence by the SGSA to continue offering safe standing and expand it to other parts of the stadium. Six other Premier League clubs – Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Brentford and Chelsea – are also applying for licences to expand their rail-seating sections after being awarded a safe-standing licence.

“We are committed to improving the matchday experience for all our fans,” McGagh added. “And we will continue to review the potential to install it in other areas of the stadium where appropriate.”

The introduction of licensed standing areas follows research which found that rail seats help reduce the safety risks for fans, compared with standing in normal seated areas. Earlier this year, Newcastle United announced that safe standing will be trialled for home fans at St. James’ Park at the start of the 2023-24 season.

Teams across the Premier League and Championship have been able to introduce safe-standing areas since the start of last season after former UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston approved the wider roll-out last summer.

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.