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Villa offer support to standing area calls

Aston Villa have become the first Premier League club to voice their support for a new campaign calling for standing areas to be introduced in grounds.

The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), along with Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff, have launched the campaign and are demanding from the Government the trial of standing areas in top-flight and Championship matches.

And Villa, as well as Peterborough, have given their support to the cause, volunteering to host a trial.

"We have had a number of good discussions and meetings with the FSF over the past 12 months and fully support their campaign to allow small-scale trials of safe standing areas at grounds," Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said.

"Whenever we have discussed the topic with our fans we've found almost unanimous support for such a trial, and the concept of giving fans the choice to decide to either sit or stand at a game.

"We believe Villa Park could be a potential venue for such a trial, and would like the opportunity to progress the plans further with the wider support of the football community in this country."

Godsiff has also submitted an early day motion to Parliament which "urges the Government to accept the case for introducing, on a trial basis, limited standing areas".

In order for any trials to go ahead a change in the Football Spectators Act 1989, brought in after the Hillsborough disaster, would be needed.

"For two decades since the Taylor Report, the overwhelming majority of football supporters have favoured a choice of standing and sitting at football, and fans continue to stand throughout all levels of the game today, even in the Premier League and Championship where it is against ground regulations and facilities are designed for sitting," Peter Daykin, Safe Standing Coordinator at the FSF, said.

"Standing was outlawed on grounds of safety, and yet successive governments have agreed that standing is safe - it's hard not to when it is done perfectly safely every week at rugby grounds, lower league football grounds and in top football leagues all around the world."

Last year the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) opposed any move to bring back standing areas.

"The Hillsborough Family Support Group are totally against any form of standing whatsoever. We are absolutely against it and always will be. Our football clubs should remain all-seater stadiums," HFSG spokesman Margaret Aspinall said then.

"People always say they have standing areas in Germany, but we don't play any part over what happens in that country - we just believe there's no such thing as safe standing in this country. We will not be encouraging the government to change the law."

The Premier League and successive governments have until now also opposed any change.

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