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FA endorses safe standing as concept in all-seater English football stadiums

The Football Association has officially endorsed the concept of introducing safe standing areas in all-seater English football stadiums.

A government review into the issue, commissioned by the department of digital, culture, media and sport, is due to begin next month and both the Premier League and EFL had already stated that they would recommend clubs being able to choose whether to have standing areas for fans.

FA approval means the three governing bodies of English professional football are in agreement about the merits of safe standing -- a significant boost for those who have spent several years campaigning for a change in the law on all-seater stadiums.

"The FA supported the announcement from sports minister Tracey Crouch in June to conduct an 'external analysis of evidence in relation to the all-seater policy' and supports clubs and leagues in having the option to choose whether they wish to provide standing options for supporters should there be clear evidence that satisfies the authorities over safety and security," An FA spokeswoman told The Times.

All-seater stadiums were made compulsory in the Premier League from the 1994-95 season in response to the Taylor Report, which made recommendations to improve stadium safety in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

But campaigners for safe standing have found growing support in recent years. Back in June, outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore announced that all 20 of the top flight's chairmen were in favour of granting clubs a "local choice" over whether to introduce safe standing areas.

"To have a united front from all the main players in football is something that the government has been asking for, for a long time," Jon Darch of the Safe Standing Roadshow added. "The fact we now have that is extremely welcome and we would hope we can now look forward to the positive outcome to the review we all want, which is clubs having the freedom of choice."

The Premier League's own research found that 70 percent of supporters want the choice of standing at their club's matches, and campaigners point to the fact that it is widely used in Germany without compromising fan safety.

Tottenham's new stadium is being built with "safe seating" for 7,500 supporters, which it is claimed can be converted to safe standing in an hour, while several clubs in France are holding trials of safe standing at their stadiums this season.


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