Safe standing is an understandably delicate topic in this country. There are those who are in favour of the idea due to the implementation and successes of it in other leagues around the world, and those who are firmly against the idea.
What should take place though, rather than an all-out decision in favour or against, is a dialogue between clubs, supporters and governing bodies. It’s regressive, in a way, to ignore something that could further enhance the quality of the product in this country, even if, as mentioned, it’s not the easiest topic to discuss. But despite the history of standing tiers in English football, it is far from a taboo.
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Germany are the clear front runners. Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park and its 30,000 capacity Yellow Wall stands as one of the modern game’s great wonders. It’s a spectacle that most are eager to see, even though UEFA rules restrict its full flight use during Champions League games.
But why should it be foreign, in more ways than one, to supporters in England? It doesn’t have to be widespread, as of course not every club will subscribe to standing. Naturally there will be those in the stands who will also remain against the idea and will continue to use seated tiers regardless of innovations. The point is, it shouldn’t remain a topic that drifts in and out of football discussion; it does belong in the game, and even with the tragedies that have taken place in the past, it’s not to say standing can’t be completely safe in the future.
We can talk about other nations’ implementation of safe standing and its successes, but shouldn’t we also acknowledge other realms such as music? Concerts and festivals do it regularly; it’s a natural and often necessary ingredient of the experience. Reading and Leeds festivals as well as Download can attract anywhere between 30,000 to 100,000 fans, and yet, despite tragedies that have happened in the past, notably 1988, standing with high volume attendances continue to be the norm.
Of course, the negative side of standing is so ingrained in the makeup of football in England that it will take an age for the topic to be seen as something wholly positive. The desire to discuss standing isn’t a reckless attempt to bring up the dark days of the past; no one, surely, is asking for the abandonment of safety. Unfortunately, however, standing may always be linked with the unpleasant side of the game.
What needs to be said is that being sat down doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the nature of football. Much like the case with music, it would seem abnormal to see an aggressive band on one side of the fence, only to be faced with thousands of seated and largely muted onlookers. It’s not organic and it does have a direct and negative effect on atmosphere, something that is often brought up.
Safe standing warrants a discussion at the very least. A mature, sensible and logical debate as to how it can be introduced in the way other nations have done. As a natural part of the game, it shouldn’t be ignored.
Is it time the Premier League considered safe standing?
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