UK & World News

  • 22 August 2014, 10:57

Football Ground Standing Pledge By Lib Dems

Fans of football clubs in England's top two divisions would be able to stand at games under plans put forward by the Liberal Democrats.

The party wants to change the law to allow standing areas to be brought back at the grounds of Premiership and Championship teams.

All-seater stadia were introduced more than 20 years ago in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster which left 96 Liverpool fans dead.

The party stresses it does want a return of the terraces of the 1980s, but says safe standing areas could be introduced using "rail seating", which have been successfully used by top tier clubs across Europe, including in Germany, Austria, and Sweden.

These can be locked in an upright position to allow fans to stand and lean against a barrier, but can also be converted back into seating as required.

Many fans say standing provides a better atmosphere, and the Liberal Democrat's point out 70% of clubs support the move.

It also claims safe standing would enable clubs to cut the cost of tickets.

However, there remains strong opposition with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which has said previously it would need to be convinced over whether it could work.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group is also against a return of standing at matches.

While the Liberal Democrats stand little chance of winning the next election, the return of another coalition government could see the safe standing proposals form part of negotiations in any power-sharing agreement.

Liberal Democrat sports spokesman John Leech said: "The Liberal Democrats believe football clubs should be allowed to introduce safe standing areas where there is a desire to do so.

"Safe standing is allowed in many other sports and we do not believe that the top level of football should be an exception.

"We are not calling for a return of the terraces of the 1980s. Modern safe standing areas using 'rail seating' operate very successfully in top tier football across Europe.

"When clubs and fans are in favour of safe standing and it can be done safely, then the Government shouldn't get in the way.

"That is why Liberal Democrats want to change the law to let clubs introduce safe standing.

"Safe standing offers supporters more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets."

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