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SBD Global/August 25, 2014/International Football

U.K. Lib Dems Looking To Change Law To Allow Safe Standing For EPL, Championship Clubs

U.K. Liberal Democrats "want to change the law and allow Premier League and Championship clubs to introduce safe standing at stadiums," according to Richard Conway of the BBC. The party has confirmed that it plans to "make the pledge as part of its 2015 General Election manifesto." However, it is "not advocating a return to open terracing." It believes rail seats, "popular in German football, should be introduced if clubs wish to install standing sections." Rail seats can be "locked in an upright position to allow fans to stand and lean against a barrier." However, the seats can "also be unlocked to comply with all-seater stadium rules, as and when required" (BBC, 8/22). In Manchester, Andrew Stuart reported "the return of safe standing areas is backed by 92% of fans and the majority of Football League clubs who claim it will create better atmosphere on match days." The Lib Dems said that the move would "also allow clubs to offer cheaper tickets for fans, many of whom" cannot afford £1,000 ($1,657)-plus season tickets. The Safe Standing Campaign said it was a "no brainer" to bring back standing for top-flight matches. Among the clubs backing the campaign are Aston Villa, Burnley, Cardiff City, Derby County, Hull City, Leeds United, Reading, Sunderland, Swansea and Wolverhampton. A ManU spokesperson said, "Manchester United is supportive of the idea in principle, however any action would be dependent on the necessary sanctions from government, the police and football authorities" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 8/22). The London GUARDIAN reported MP John Leech said that modern seating designs "would not present the same dangers as terraces of the past." Leech: "The big difference is that people would have an allocated area to stand in" (GUARDIAN, 8/22).

JUSTICE CAMPAIGN SKEPTICAL: SKY SPORTS reported the Hillsborough Justice Campaign's Kenny Derbyshire -- "an eye-witness of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people were crushed to death -- believes any standing area could be dangerous." Derbyshire: "I'm totally against standing. ... It was unsafe then and it could be unsafe now. I think the only reason why the Liberal Democrats are bringing this in is to get more votes and what they are doing is wrong" (SKY SPORTS, 8/22).

'IT'S TIME': In London, Andrew Woods commented "you know politicians are getting increasingly desperate when they start targeting football supporters in an attempt to secure the popular vote." While cynics "might argue" that U.K. Deputy PM Nick Clegg and his friends "don't exactly have a great track record when it comes to their election pledges, most football supporters would probably back them on this one." Football grounds "had a better atmosphere when supporters were allowed to stand up." If "horse racing and rugby (as well as Football League and non-league football) can allow spectators to stand, why not the Premier League?" (TELEGRAPH, 8/22).
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