sport

Villa keen on safe standing

Aston Villa's football operations manager Lee Preece claims the club are keen to trial the use of 'rail-seats' to help promote safe standing in the Premier League.

Preece was at Bristol City's Ashton Gate ground where a block of rail seats, which can be flipped into an upright position to create rows of standing areas, were installed at an English football stadium for the first time.

But current legislation means when more rails seats are installed as part of City's redevelopment, only Bristol Rugby supporters will be able to use them.

Having watched a demonstration of the seats in action, Preece explained that Villa are keen to join Bristol City in playing their part to further the campaign.

"We at Aston Villa have said we are quite happy to use an area of Villa Park as a trial so the Premier League, the authorities and the government can see a safe standing area in practice," Preece said.

"A survey carried out earlier in the year surveyed over 1000 of our supporters and in the region of 96/97 per cent wanted to see a return of standing areas.

"I'd like to think it could happen in the Premier League. The main thing from Villa's perspective is we have put our head above the parapet simply to further the debate - we think people should be looking at it.

"There are clearly lots of sensitive issues and debates at high level that need to take place if we are to get to a point where legislation can change.

"But it is the sensible and practical solution to an issue that exists in football at the moment. There is still work to do but let's have those discussions and see if we can't make it happen.

"Like most Premier League clubs we suffer at the moment with persistent standing in seating areas in certain parts of the ground.

"It would be safe to say that the vast majority of away fans at Villa Park this season have stood up and don't want to sit down. I don't think any Premier League club to my knowledge has any success with various tactics that get people to sit down.

"We feel there are clearly thousands of people who want to stand up to watch football matches and so let's do it in something which is designed for standing."