More British football clubs are to adopt “safe standing” areas within their stadiums from next season, the UK government confirmed on Monday.
Brentford, Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers will be the first clubs to join early triallers of the initiative — Cardiff City, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur — in offering licensed standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans.
Grounds in England’s top divisions were converted to all-seater stadiums nearly 30 years ago after Liverpool supporters were crushed in over-crowded and fenced-in areas at the Hillsborough Stadium in 1989, which led to 97 deaths.
“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,” UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston said.
“Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough football disaster.
“I am proud of the work that has gone into this rigorous process and that we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to get fans back on their feet in stadiums.”
Other clubs are expected to adopt licensed standing areas during the course of the season, while Wembley, England’s national stadium and venue for club cup semi-finals and finals, will also offer a small licensed standing area for fans at domestic matches later in the campaign.
The stadiums have been selected following an application process, open to all grounds covered by the all-seater policy, led by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).
Strict conditions have been met, including enhanced use of CCTV, improved steward training and fans being strictly limited to “one person, one space”. Clubs have also engaged with fans as part of their application process.