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Is safe standing 1 step closer?

Safe standing areas in football grounds in England could be 1 step closer after a government report found that seating areas at football grounds which incorporate barriers have a "positive impact on spectator safety".

The interim report from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) found such seating areas "mitigate the risk of crowd collapse".

It comes after the government stated it "will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing".

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said he "welcomed" the SGSA's findings.

"Over a million people watch live football at a ground every week, and having spoken to fans across the country, I know that safe standing is an issue many feel passionately about," he said.

"As we made clear in our election manifesto, we will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing at football grounds.

"However, it is imperative that football remains as safe as it has become over the past 25 years. Robust evidence that this change will provide equivalent or improved safety for supporters, will be absolutely paramount to this process.

"There is more work that needs to be done. The SGSA is continuing to gather evidence over the course of this season, and I have asked them to work with the relevant authorities to consider next steps as we work with clubs and fans to introduce safe standing."

In October, the SGSA was asked to look into how safe standing is implemented at British and European clubs, and how persistent standing is managed elsewhere, after a previous government-commis­sioned report said more evidence was required before safe standing could be adopted.

However, it is not being trialled in England's top two leagues this season, despite the previous report suggesting controlled tests would have value.

The SGSA's report also found:

  • Clubs have developed management strategies appropriate to their stadiums which enable them to deal with persistent standing.
  • Wheelchair platforms can be incorporated into seating areas with barriers.
  • There has been "very little conflict" between fans, or between fans and stewards, as a result of standing in areas with barriers.

SGSA chief executive Martyn Henderson said: "Our research is providing new insights into the positive impact that installing seats with barriers can have on crowd safety.

"The research is ongoing and we will publish the final report at the end of season. In the meantime, we will work closely with the Government on the imple­men­ta­tion of its manifesto commitment to introduce safe standing."

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