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SPL vote for safe standing areas

Football News 24/7
Safe standing sections could be introduced in the Scottish Premier League, following the approval of a plan to allow top flight clubs to pilot the idea. Following a meeting of the 12 member clubs on Monday, a vote was passed to amend current rules stating all SPL grounds must be all-seater.

The SPL board will now have the ability to approve any request made by a club to pilot a standing area, subject to further approval from the police and local authorities.

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPL, said: “Since I joined the SPL in 2009, there has been widespread support amongst fans to re-introduce safe standing areas.

"I am delighted that we have been able to respond positively to supporters’ views on improving the match day experience.

"Whenever we talk to supporters about what they'd like to see, safe standing comes up as one of the things they'd like to see,"

"Whilst there's a number of hurdles that clubs would need to overcome to re-introduce standing at their grounds, our rules are one of those hurdles.

"So, that's now out the way and that paves for clubs to come forward with pilot schemes if they have the support of their local police force and local safety committee to come forward and put forward pilot schemes that the SPL board can look at."

Top flight grounds in Scotland have been all-seater since 1994 and current regulations stipulate the need for all clubs to have a minimum capacity of 6,000 all-seated but Scotland is not bound by the law which banned standing areas in top-flight football in England, which came into force after the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster.

"That legislation was introduced in England back in the 80s," said Doncaster "In Scotland, I think there was a view that Scottish football was already well underway with making improvements at that time.

"The perception from some that we're going to see the re-introduction of open terraces as was the case before is wide of the mark. What we'll be looking at and what we'll be welcoming are pilot schemes put forward that look at the rail seating systems that we see, for example, in Germany.

"Having spent some time recently in Germany, looking at the systems at Borussia Dortmund, it's a fantastic system and it certainly does a great deal for the atmosphere within the ground and if it is introduced here, if we are able to get pilots away, hopefully we'll see the same here.

"The systems are fairly straight forward to police. There are some stadia where it simply wouldn't work but there are some stadia where it could work.

"Friday night football, safe standing areas; all of these are issues that are responding to supporter demand, looking at ways in-which we can improve the product and tempt people back through the turnstyles."

Several clubs are already known to be interested in putting forward a scheme.

According to the BBC, the move was greeted with surprise by Strathclyde Police who's spokesperson told them:"We have not had any detailed discussions with the SPL around the safe-standing areas.

"If the SPL would like to discuss the issue with us then perhaps we would be able to understand what the specific proposals are."

KT

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