Safe standing - what is it and what clubs could be chosen to trial it?

The very way football supporters take in matches could be about to change after the announcement that safe standing will be trialled in the Premier League and Championship.

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Fans have not been allowed to legally stand since 1989 after a law was introduced following the Hillsborough disaster.

All grounds since 1994 in the first two tiers of English football have been required to be all-seated after recommendations in the Taylor Report.

But after years of campaigning, the UK Government is loosening its rules on supporters and is open to trialling safe standing.

The Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), who are sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, are inviting applications for the next two weeks, with pilots set to take place in January.

What is safe standing?

Safe standing or more appropriately, ‘rail seating’ has been in the Bundesliga for over a decade and has been successfully used by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.

You start off with a metal seat which has a durable metal frame behind it, reaching the waist level of the fans in the row behind.

The seats have the same kind of spacing as the plastic seats in other parts of the ground.

This allows a supporter to take their seat during the match and not obstruct the view of those in front or behind them.

Who could accommodate safe standing?

Six Premier League teams; Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, have accessible grounds that could allow for it.

Liverpool could have the biggest number of safe standing seats as they announced that they are introducing 7,8000 seats earlier this summer.

Their title rivals Manchester installed 5000 railed seats in addition to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who erected them in the Sir Jack Hayward Stand a few years back.

Spurs’ new stadium came already with the special seating, whilst Chelsea last month put some in their Matthew Harding and Shed End upper and lower tiers.

Meanwhile in the Championship, both Bristol City and Cardiff City have been earmarked as two clubs who could host pilot events.

Cardiff have already begun by installing seats with barriers across the back five rows of the ‘Canton Stand’, the end behind one of their goals.

What is being said?

In 2019, the Conservative manifesto included plans to introduce safe standing and has received cross party support.

Today, UK Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has said:  “We have been clear that we will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing at football grounds providing there was evidence that installing seating with barriers would have a positive impact on crowd safety.

"With independent research now complete, and capacity crowds back at grounds across the country, now is the right time to make progress."