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Safe standing areas can be introduced in Premier League & Championship from 2022-23

Chelsea fans use the rail seating at Stamford Bridge
The report says next steps will include assessing levels of demand for safe standing areas among fans

Premier League and Championship clubs will be allowed to introduce safe standing areas from the start of the 2022-23 season.

Five clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Cardiff City – took part in a government-commissioned ‘early adopters’ pilot study during the second half of 2021-22.

Brentford, QPR and Wolves will be the next clubs to join them in offering licensed standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans.

Other clubs are expected to follow suit during the new season.

Wembley Stadium will also offer a small licensed standing area for fans at domestic matches later in the season.

The stadiums were selected following an application process and strict conditions have been met, including enhanced use of CCTV, improved steward training and fans being strictly limited to ‘one person, one space’.

The necessary legislative amendments to the Football Spectators Act were tabled in Parliament on Monday.

“Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds,” said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

“We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted.”

Rails in seated areas allowed fans to stand while their safety was independently assessed and in April an interim report by CFE Research, commissioned by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), said that safe standing had “a positive impact on spectator safety” and improved the matchday experience.

Then in May, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he was “minded” to allow stadiums to have licensed standing areas next season.

On 2 January, Stamford Bridge became the first top-flight ground to allow licensed standing in almost 30 years when Chelsea and Liverpool met in a 2-2 Premier League draw.

Designated standing areas had not been seen at Premier League grounds since the adoption of all-seater stadiums in the early 1990s – a recommendation of the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 97 fans died following a crush.

Spectators at many grounds have continued to stand in seated areas, most commonly behind the goals, despite regular warnings from local authorities and police that it is dangerous.

“Based upon what I have experienced and we have learnt through the pilot programme, safe standing is set to deliver an electric atmosphere at our football stadiums,” said Huddleston on Monday.

“Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters’ groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough disaster.”

Standing areas are commonplace in Germany’s Bundesliga and there are similar examples across the rest of Europe, the United States and Australia.

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