The Safe Standing Debate

Safe Standing
Safe Standing

The other day, whilst listening to the great Adrian Durham on TalkSport I became slightly irritated.

To be fair, TalkSport tends to do that to me these days which is one of the main reasons why I listen to it so infrequently. Indeed,Durhamis one of only three broadcasters on the station whose opinion I actually put some value in

However, I digress. What caused my irritation was a woman who came on to take part in a debate on the issue of safe standing.

Now I have no firm opinions on this matter either way although I do think that the imposition of designated seating has had a catastrophic effect on the atmosphere at games and anything which would kick that into touch is alright by me.

Anyway, the source of my irritation  was a spokesperson (sic) for the Justice for the 96 campaign who came on and gave an impassioned plea which revolved around the idea that a return to any kind of terracing would be a huge slap in the face not only to the memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster but to those who continue to fight for justice.

Now as many people will know, I’ve written a lot about Hillsborough over the years and to say that my opinions have not always been universally praised would be something of an understatement. But whilst I have every sympathy for the families of all of the victims, the more I listened to her the more irritated I became. Primarily because she was talking complete and utter bollocks.

Every football fan knows that whatever the causes of the Hillsborough tragedy, it changed football forever and in all kinds of ways. Yet it is a fact that football is an evolutionary entity and to claim that a return to terracing would mean that 96 people had died for nothing is, as far as I am concerned, a genuine insult to their memory.

Because I’ve stood on terraces which were so steep that climbing up them almost required crampons and others which were so packed you could barely breath let alone fight. I’ve stood and watched games through steel bars, been crushed against fences and been treated like shit by policemen simply because I’ve had the temerity to visit their town to follow my team (irony alert I know!). Yet because of Hillsborough, none of those things exist any more.

But just as importantly, the simple fact of the matter is that if people want to stand at games (as they still do in the lower leagues and in parts of Europe) then they are going to, seats or no seats and laws or no laws -and let’s not forget, the 96 who died were, in the main, usually to be found standing on The Kop at Anfield rather than sitting in the stands.

So if we are now able to provide an environment in which the modern day football fan can stand both safely and legally, then we should do it.

For if Hillsborough is going to provide the game with a genuine legacy, safer standing should surely be it.

5 thoughts on “The Safe Standing Debate”

  1. Totally agree, in the lower leagues when you are trying to get the atmosphere going you want to stand with you mates and sing etc, but with seating arrangements you might be in separate blocks. Also at away ground you get jumped up stewards who spoilt it when you do stand up… A safe area is what we want…

    Hope Sean Dyche can continue the good work for you.

  2. i usually stand in the seating area anyway – but thats only due to the fact that my height standing, is everybody elses height sitting. I could get round this problem….but it would mean having to take a booster seat with me.

    I think not….doubt even a Burberry booster seat could even rescue my credibility in that situation

    As for standing – no disrespect to the H96. (All respect to Trevor) But THAT WASNT DUE TO STANDING OR SITTING – wasnt that due to the police ignoring cries of help and the turnstiles just letting more and more in??

    The problem is not to do with the position you watch football in but the organising behind it. if we didnt have the fences up then that wouldnt have happened.

    I shall quote Martin Fletcher, Survivor of the Bradford tradegy, (who by some freak happening was also at Hillsborough) talking about Hillsborough and Bradford.

    ” The disaster at Bradford just 4 years previous could have yielded answers and DID but they were ignored – What Bradford did prove was that the pitch provided the only emergency escape route.
    Had the 2,000 terrace spaces that flanked the stand’s 2,000 seats been fenced, a death toll of 9/11 proportion would have resulted. As it was, only a gap in the Kop terrace fence adjacent to the stand allowed hundreds to escape. Both the FA chairman and Football League secretary immediately suggested a review of fencing policy. Home secretary Leon Britton promised parliament, “There is no question of simply putting up a fence which would create a trap”.


    1. “As for standing – no disrespect to the H96. (All respect to Trevor) But THAT WASNT DUE TO STANDING OR SITTING – wasnt that due to the police ignoring cries of help and the turnstiles just letting more and more in??

      The problem is not to do with the position you watch football in but the organising behind it. if we didnt have the fences up then that wouldnt have happened.”

      Which takes us beck to the legacy of hooliganism which had not only tainted police opinions of football fans to the extent that they thought the crush was due to fighting but had almost encouraged fans to behave in a manner which created the initial crush outside the ground.

  3. I didn’t say it was down to standing or sitting although many people would argue that had everyone been seated then it would never have happened (others argue the opposite).

    But the fact is that whilst everyone accuses the police, Hillsborough was the result of the long term failure to deal with the culture of hooliganism.

    That was why we had fences, that was why the police had such a bad relationship with the fans and that’s why violence, hate and fear as well as activities such as steaming and taxing had become a part and parcel of the match day experience back in the 80’s.

    Yes, the police should shoulder a degree of blame but so should the authorities and more importantly, so should the fans themselves for allowing that culture to continue.

  4. I feel im going off on a tangent, only because have not had this discussion with anyone in ages…..My feelings are, if it was seated then the number admitted would have been regulated 1 seat = 1 person. Thus not allowing it to become overfull. whether there were hooligans there or not. To me the biggest problem that day was the numbers admitted and pushing down from the back. If there were seats in place pushing ( steaming?) couldnt have been possible.

    I was never a hooligan (despite what Ms Aherne says!) so do not know the ways of the pack.

    We had barriers on the terraces fitted to prevent this action.and it worked.

    Am all for standing, safe standing at that, but they should adopt what night clubs do surely and have a maximum capacity for safety. plus all the bits like the barriers etc

    Football isnt the same sitting down You cant get the same atmosphere going, Have been to a few lower league games and even with small numbers you can get more of an atmosphere going than u can with dubble the number of people sitting down.

    I feel we should have a choice…………

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