From January 1st of next year, five clubs will take part in a safe standing trial, according to Sports Minister Nigel Headstone.
The proposals of Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Cardiff to operate licensed safe standing areas have all been approved. The trial signals the end of a more than a 25-year prohibition on standing in English football’s top two categories.
Headstone said: “I’m pleased to approve these five clubs as early adopters of licensed safe standing areas for the second half of the season.
“The time is now right to properly trial safe standing in the Premier League and EFL Championship ahead of a decision on a widespread roll-out.”
“Safety is absolutely paramount and the SGSA (Sports Grounds Safety Authority) is working hand-in-glove with the clubs on this.”
“Fans deserve different options on how they can enjoy a live match and I will be watching the progress of these trials with interest.”
The experiment will be monitored by the independent firm CFE Research, and the results will be shared with the government so that it may decide whether or not to expand the use of safe standing for the following season. Liverpool did not seek to be a part of the pilot because they are currently conducting their own trial at Anfield with two portions of rail seats.
The present trial at the Merseyside club is only intended to allow safe standing at specific moments of excitement during a game, not throughout. At the end of the season, the Reds will evaluate their trial.
Following the 1989 Hillsborough catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans, legislation was passed outlawing standing areas in what is currently the Premier League and Championship.The introduction of standing spaces is in line with the Government’s commitment in its 2019 General Election platform, and it is a step that enjoys bipartisan support.
A spokesperson for the SGSA said in response to Darch’s comments: “The introduction of licensed standing is an historic change that will improve the safety for those fans whose choice is to stand when watching the game.