The safe standing debate took an important step last week when Shrewsbury became the first Football League club to apply for permission to install so-called ‘rail seats’ at their all-seater ground. A day later Northampton Town made the same application, and, in doing so started the ball rolling for a managed reintroduction of standing at football matches.
Some grounds already have the rail seats, Ashton Gate for instance. Those grounds built after the Taylor Report were required to be all-seater stadiums, and it is those grounds in the main that will be looking to return to safe standing. If a ground upgraded to all-seater without actually having to, such as Sincil Bank, then we to would need to apply to introduce safe standing. Of course any major physical changes at Sincil Bank are extremely unlikely, after all a new stadium is in the pipeline and the club would be unlikely to spend money on changes to a ground that will be reduced to rubble within ten years, however the issue is still being debated by City fans.
Following my article last week I have been contacted by the 617 Squadron, the Imps fans group, and they have issued the following statement regarding their feelings on the matter.
“The debate surrounding the reintroduction of standing at football matches is a difficult one, due to the introduction of all seater stadiums being implemented after the tragic events of Hillsborough. However as time has proceeded, the theories and understanding surrounding that tragic day has started to evolve, moving away from blaming the fans, to the organisation and implementation of the polices strategy alongside the use of a stadium, that at the time, was no longer fit for purpose. Moving away from the reasons behind the removal of standing terraces within the Football League and more toward the growing movement behind reintroducing safe standing to British football, something that Celtic and now Shrewsbury are leading the way with.
The concept of safe standing could revolutionise the modern game as more and more fans push back at the corporate atmosphere that is smothering the working class roots of the beautiful game. Safe standing can provide a cheaper option for people as well as boosting the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly the 617 are 110% behind the reintroduction of safe standing and are hoping that it will be included in the plans for the new stadium as they become ever clearer. Currently housed in Block 7 of the Co-op Stand, we can always be found stood up, surrounded by like minded individuals who also prefer to stand whilst watching. However, towards the end of last season, you could look across the Co-op stand to see vast swathes of people stood up watching the action. Whilst this is a brilliant sight to witness, it is not the fairest thing to do, there are many people situated within the Co-op stand and other areas of Sincil Bank, that are unable to remain standing for large periods of a game, and therefore their experience of the game is reduced. By designating safe standing areas with the appropriate infrastructure, you provide a platform for – and able individuals to join together to vociferously back the club and start to bring the club back to its roots of belonging to the working class. The sense of community that has enveloped the club is fantastic and by introducing a safe form of standing, you are allowing people to watch football as it is most natural to do so. 617 back safe standing – do you?”
The 617 boys are currently crowd funding to allow them to continue their displays at games through the League Two. To read more please click here.