Standing Up For The Right To Stand

Last updated : 18 January 2013 By Michael Morris

The campaign has already been backed by Welsh sides Cardiff City and Swansea. He has tabled a motion for debate in the National Assembly, co-signed by Assembly Members from all parties, calling on the Welsh Government to lobby UK Government counterparts for a change in the law to allow safe standing at top-flight football matches. 

He said: “Conditions have changed dramatically since Lord Justice Taylor’s report was published, with dramatic improvements in policing methods, ticketing arrangements and safety in modern stadia. 

“Safe standing already exists in Germany in top-flight football and provides a convenient, controlled environment for fans who wish to stand at matches. I would like to see these methods trialled at grounds in the UK so that football fans can enjoy the experience of watching their team in the same way that fans are allowed to at rugby matches or race courses across the UK every weekend.” 

Mr Davies, who has attended events hosted by the FSF in the past, said that standing areas could improve accessibility to top-flight football, particularly in light of the on-going row over inflated ticket prices. 

He said: “I can understand the argument that all-seater stadia have improved diversity at football matches since the 1980s but football and football stadiums have changed since the days of sprawling terraces and fencing. 

“I have noticed the changing demographic at Cardiff City over the years, with more women, children and people from ethnic minority backgrounds attending games than ever. Obviously this is great news for the game and its long term sustainability, but this development does conceal a worrying demographic change; as ticket prices have risen and risen since the advent of all-seating stadiums, people from more deprived backgrounds have been priced out of what was always the ‘people’s game’. 

“Standing areas are typically considerably cheaper and introducing limited standing areas to stadiums could dramatically improve accessibility to top-level sport in the UK, without having an adverse effect on those who wish to remain seated at matches. Most fans will tell you that safe terraced areas help improve the atmosphere at matches and, most importantly, offer football supporters the choice they deserve. 

“Essentially, from my own point of view, this campaign boils down to two things: the right for football fans to be treated the same as their counterparts at other well-attended sports in the UK, and the chance to trial an advance in safety methods which is well-established on the continent”. 

The motion, which was co-signed by fellow AMs Peter Black, Bethan Jenkins and Ann Jones is accompanied by a Statement of Opinion and Mr Davies has urged other Assembly Members to sign it and send out a clear message of support for the campaign.

The Notice of Motion reads: 

“The National Assembly for Wales: 

·        Notes the appetite which exists amongst football supporters in Wales and beyond for the introduction of safe standing areas in the Premier League and Football League Championship. 

·        Recognises the key role which Assembly Members and Welsh football clubs competing in the English pyramid can play in lobbying the UK Government and football authorities to accept the case for introducing safe standing areas on a limited, trial basis. 

·        Notes the positive role which standing areas at football matches could play in significantly reducing ticket prices, improving access to high-level football for people from deprived communities, improving atmosphere and providing spectators with greater choice. 

·        Recognises that safe standing is operational, popular and well-established at top-level football in Germany; as well as at rugby union, rugby league and other sporting and public events across the UK.”