THE fight for safe standing at Football League grounds will now be taken to parliament after the scheme was supported by the majority of league clubs.
Currently, standing areas are permitted in both League One and League Two but any team promoted to the Championship must convert any standing areas to seating by the end of their third season in the second tier.
A meeting held at Derby’s Pride Park stadium on Thursday saw the Football League clubs presented with the findings of a consultation which asked four main questions relating to the regulations regarding Championship clubs and the licensing of rail seating for Football League grounds. The innovative rail seats offer a designated spot for each supporter in a standing area, with an iron rail to lean on, which can easily be switched into a seating area if required.
The majority of clubs answered positively to all four questions, meaning the battle for safe standing will now be taken to parliament.
Swindon Town have previously backed the Football Supporters’ Federation’s ‘Safe Standing’ campaign after a poll conducted by fan site The Washbag revealed 87 per cent of Robins fans would welcome the initiative, but yesterday chose not to reveal whether or not they supported the move to lobby parliament. The club also chose not to comment on the latest development when offered the opportunity by the Advertiser yesterday.
The Advertiser understands the club would consider a safe standing area in any new stand built at the County Ground but would not be keen on switching any part of the current ground to standing due to the fact the current facilities would be unable to cope with the increased capacity.
Roger Bunce, chairman of the Swindon Town Supporters Club, has watched his side play from terraces in this country and also in Germany where large standing areas are common at top flight, leading him to believe safe standing would be worth trying in English football.
“I’m 67 now but when I used to stand in the Town End when I was 17 there was an atmosphere there we haven’t had since,” he said. “It would be great to have that back.
“I’ve been to watch a few games at Werder Bremen and they have the standing there and it’s always a good atmosphere.
“Eventually some idiots would decide it’s a good idea to move around and there’s always that fear.
“The Town End would be the place it has to be if it did happen and it would be interesting to try it out.”
Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson is happy the issue will now be discussed in parliament but still has concerns regarding the reintroduction of terracing throughout English football.
“I know I’m in a minority but I’m not 100 per cent convinced by this because the safety and family friendly nature has been transformed and I do worry a move back to standing will damage that,” he said.
“Lots of football fans feel very passionately about this and are lobbying very hard but I think the government needs to look very closely at the evidence here.
“As a football community we have to look at this and I’m glad it is coming to parliament because it is a big issue.”