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Dec 11, 2012

Thirteen clubs support standing campaign

Thirteen English league clubs are in favour of reintroducing standing areas into football grounds according to the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF).

The fans' group met with British MPs on Tuesday to try and convince them to back their call for the footballing authorities to allow standing areas to be trialled at some selected grounds around the country.

The FSF wants the FA and the Premier League to adopt fold-up rail seats, widespread in Germany, saying technology had moved on since the Taylor Report signalled a move to all-seater stadiums in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

The families of the 96 victims who died at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in 1989 are vehemently opposed to the move and the Premier League also voiced their disapproval but the FSF wants them to reconsider.

The FSF's Peter Daykin said: "We need to find out if it can work and the only way to do that is to trial it."

The FSF's Safe Standing Campaign is supported by Aston Villa, Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Hull City, Peterborough United, Watford, AFC Wimbledon, the Scottish Premier League, the Safe Standing Roadshow and Stand Up Sit Down.

A total of 52 MPs has backed a Parliament motion tabled by Roger Godsiff, the MP for Birmingham Hall Green, raised in October. The campaign also has support from Superintendent Steven Graham of the West Midlands Police.

He said: "We have got very little experience of what standing would look like in a 21st century football ground in the UK. We have experience of it from the 1980's in the UK and we have experiences of it today in Germany.

"We are not proposing tearing up football grounds. We need to start gathering some data so that people in the industry can make decisions to give supporters the best customer experience.''

But Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died at Hillsborough, said standing should not make a return to English stadiums. The chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group said: "There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed.

"There were 96 dead at Hillsborough and it could have been a lot more. Standing should never, ever come back. I do not think there is anything safe about standing. I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now.''

The FSF says a growing desire from fans to stand at games means the issue should be explored. A campaign spokesman said: "Week in, week out football supporters stand in their thousands at top level English football, all of them in accommodation that is unfit for purpose and usually to the detriment of other fans who prefer, or are forced, to sit.

"Meanwhile technology has moved on apace and we see fans across the globe - in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the USA - standing safely in properly designed and managed areas, paying lower prices and generating better atmospheres. In short, England and Wales are being left behind.

"Nobody associated with the Football Supporters' Federation's safe standing campaign wants to return to life on the terraces of the 1980s. Looking to the future, there's a tremendous opportunity to solve some of the profound problems in the modern game by introducing new standing technology.''

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