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SPL right to stand and deliver on fans' standing

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Jim Spence | 17:12 UK time, Monday, 26 December 2011

The proposal for safe standing areas at Scottish football is the best news I've heard for a long time.

I've never been a fan of sitting at a game and improvements in technology mean standing could be a real boon to our game in terms of atmosphere.

Celtic and Rangers both seem ready to embrace the move and others should follow.

At Celtic Park, the Green Brigade has been much maligned, but very often they have provided the only atmosphere at games there.

Fans at some SPL grounds may once again be able to stand at the match - but would Hibs consider such a move having completed its all-seater stadium? Photo: SNS

Fans at some SPL grounds may once again be able to stand at the match - but would Hibs consider such a move having completed its all-seater stadium? Photo: SNS

Football is both entertainment and spectacle and the SPL is to be applauded for this overdue and sensible move.

No-one is mooting a return to the huge terracing of yesteryear like the giant slopes of Easter Road or Tannadice, but a return to the Hibees bounce or the Shed boys dance would add greatly to the sense of occasion, in my book.

There may be some grounds where a return to some safe standing is impractical; although those clubs may come under pressure from their own fans once they see how standing works at other grounds.

Safety must always be the primary concern, but there is no good reason why, with good planning and communication with fans, safe standing should not enhance the match-day experience.

Too often that experience has been a turgid and miserable one, with overzealous officialdom treating those who pay their wages, the fans, shoddily.

In recent times the Friday night experiment has worked well and the recent Saturday early kick-offs seemed to be reasonably well received among many supporters.

At last it seems that there is genuine dialogue going on between those in charge of the game and supporters.

That is good for the future of our football, for which I believe there is still a remarkable appetite.

Now everyone from local councils to police must ensure that there is no unreasonable obstruction to these sensible plans on standing.

It's time to stand and deliver on standing at football.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Funny you should use a picture of Hibs as an example. As a Hibs fan who recently went to watch the Rangers game i'd say about 80% of the Rangers fans stood throughout the match anyway. Indeed week in week out Hibs fans often stand (and when it was the old East Stand that included myself).

    I think done properly it would be a good idea. Then again i'd rather see Hibs leave the infrastructure alone for a while and focus on the team!

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm all for it, anything that can enhance the atmosphere in our grounds is well worth looking into. Those opposed to it will point to the disasters of Hillsborough, Ibrox & Heysel, and while these should never be forgotten, these disasters were mainly a result of other factors, mainly poor crowd control; not standing.

    It's worth pointing out that 'Safe Standing' is nothing like the old-style terracing, everyone has their own row and a barrier in front of them. With this in mind, Jim, I'm assuming capacity wouldn't be increased? If it's purely just to boost atmosphere, is the additional cost to redevelop our stadia really worth it?

    Most people I have spoken to are all for it. The clubs seem to be all for it.

    However getting the police, politicians, councils, opposition groups etc agreeing to it is another thing...

  • Comment number 3.

    Personally I prefer to sit at matches but that may be an age thing.

    I know that some people would like standing brought back but there are several points that need to be made and considered first.

    1. Clubs have to be free to make their own decision on any possible reintroduction.
    2. Who would pay for the work needed to alter the ground, no matter the size of the
    standing area there would be a deal of expense incurred.
    3. A number of those who want to see its return are of the view that standing will
    be much cheaper than the current prices, is this likely in the economic climate?
    4. Clubs would have different ideas as to how big a standing area they wanted to
    have and would probably also have season tickets so would there actually be
    the facility to turn up on the day and stand?
    5. Can clubs actually afford the expense of introducing standing and losing revenue
    from seats?
    What about clubs that depend on income from OF matches, would they use the
    seats that will be part of the standing areas for those games to maximise
    revenue and if so is that not fleecing OF fans ?

    Finally I take issue with statement at #2 that "clubs seem to be all for it", Inverness and his own Dundee Utd. have both said it isn't for them so not
    universally supported then.

    As a way of allowing fans who can't afford the current overpriced fare on offer the opportunity to attend games it could be a good idea but would require very careful planning by those who would decide and that certainly worries me given their track record.

  • Comment number 4.

    @morbhoy - Ok, not every club have supported it but 9/12 clubs said they were interested. And I'm sure I read last week that Stephen Thompson said DUFC were keen on it but only if it was financially viable.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Safe Standing" has never gone away, many lower league teams, rugby stadiums and non league clubs have it and have done so in many cases for over 100 years.

    Large "Kops" as we used to know it they may not be but if sensible restrictions on size ( mainly by depth of terrace) crowd control and barriers are in place it is as safe as sitting. Prices are lower and the better atmosphere and freedom to move around make it popular with many fans.

    In England I hope it is allowed back at Championship level at least

  • Comment number 6.

    It may boost attendances and I am all for it.

    But the only thing which will boost attendances significantly will be when we play the football and how much it costs.

    No one wants to pay in excess of £25 per ticket to watch Aberdeen play Inverness in the freezing cold rain and wind. But if I said you can watch it in July for: £15 an adult and £7 per child, then attendances would be up. Also the rules about food and drink at games need changed, I was at Parkhead recently and a steward came up to a wee boy of about seven threatening to evict him from the ground because his mum gave him a can of coca-cola to take in with him. Sure, shout at a wee boy that age and never mind the bigots.

  • Comment number 7.

    "I've never been a fan of sitting at a game and improvements in technology mean standing could be a real boon to our game in terms of atmosphere."

    Technology? Even in Dundee (I'm an arab too BTW, Jim) a metal barrier can't really be referred to as 'technology'. I remember fondly a trip to Munich a decade ago where I watched Bayern play at the Olympiastadion, itself built for the '72 Olympics. There were standing areas with such barriers in place. The area was also shared between both sets of fans and they were selling beer but that's a whole other argument - can you imagine that in Scotland?!

    Although things are clearly changing in our game this kind of incremental concession is already 30 years too late and clubs have already spent a lot of money satisfying often arbitrary requirements regarding stadia. Though this story is a positive one it only serves to highlight how backward the game in Scotland is in so many other ways. Still, you've got to start somewhere.

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes, the Old Firm are all for standing at games ... as #1 suggests, look at footage of any Old Firm away match and you will see their fans totally disregarding the current regulations. Police and stewards look on with an air of helplessness as p.a. announcements to sit down and remain seated are greeted by defiant chants such as 'Stand Up For The Champions'. Aberdeen boss Craig Brown is right when he points out that fans already stand anyway. However, the clubs or media never acknowledge this blatant anarchic behaviour. But, is anarchy a justification for change? I await the day when police advise a referee to suspend a match on safety grounds because these visiting fans will not conform to the rules? Many of these same fans regularly sing 'illicit' songs at away matches without media comment. Is it any surprise that their actions eventually cause embarassment to those who have consistently turned a blind eye? On the other hand, and quite ironically, visiting fans who 'dare' to stand at Ibrox or Celtic Park are ejected from the ground. Perhaps safe-standing is an idea for the future. For the present, 'make a stand' against anarchy and enforce the rules.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great to see this moving forward at last, but it's a shame that people like Jim (don't mean to pick on you, but it's your blog I saw) who say they have "never been a fan of sitting at a game" and similar were not more vocal about the issue before.

    It's people like Jim and others in the media who could have helped push the campaign forward far more in the years gone by when misinformation and ignorance was keeping standing a distant dream.

    So while I'm glad to see support for the proposals, I do wish it had been more proactive and less reactive.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog .... it could be the way forward for Scottish football to improve the atmosphere (without having to turn up the sound level)

    Only the OF have sell out grounds when they play each other,and majority of the SPL teams have sparce crowds in their stadium (the SFL only has a handful of fans watching a non league standard product).

    #6 Agree with summer football league ... Maybe the Scottish and Irish teams could also merge also into a 'Celtic' league.This Celtic league would not clash with the national team aspirations as they have not qualified since 1998 for any World or European Finals

    Good idea will it improve the end product .... maybe

  • Comment number 11.

    miles too late and prob too expensive with The Doncasters Rules about what constitutes safe standing. why on earth we had to adopt all seated in the first place is beyond comprehension in scotland. look at the number of farcical grounds around the country that adapted to the original 10k all seater, what is it now 6.5k we only have 5 clubs out of 42 that attract 6.5k fans to an average home game. the german "rail system" is to cater for thousands not twa men and a dug. the administration of the game in scotland with these two morris dancers at the helm is like a laurel and hardy comedy sketch peterhead played berwick recently midweek and am sure i spotted the elgin city team bus lost in fife one tuesday afternoon asking for directions to annan !!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    #8
    Bang on,
    Tayside police treat home fans like aliens,
    when the OF are in town,all for an easy afternoons overtime.Nae wonder we dinnae follow oor team to the west,breath at your pearl.Why should we have to spend money we,ve no got to stand again,when the restrictions put in place were nothing to do within our own league(RIP HILLSBROUGH VICTIMS)! Anyway whats the point in extending capacity when we cannot fill the seats already there.I keep saying it.SUMMER FOOTBALL, reduced entrance fees, then see if more people wanna come to watch the game.United put 1,500 on their gate xmas eve with 10&5 pounds to get in.
    @10
    Merry Xmas to the outsider.
    I got a lovely xmas book gift from my wife(who left eng 40yrs ago) i wonder why????
    The Management! It says, the times published in 2007 that out of the top all-time 20 managers to grace the game.2 italians,dutch,spanish,brazillians,english.1 german,french,argy,austrian,portugese,& hungarian.Thats 16 out of 20.Wonder who made up the rest???????????????

  • Comment number 13.

    #4 The Inverness Chairman said that the proposed seats cost £80 as opposed to £30 for "normal" seats so I don't suppose it will be financially viable.

    #6 I agree that the two deciding factors when it comes to attending matches are
    the cost and the quality of the football likely to be on offer.

    The issue over bringing back standing for the clubs is how can they increase attendances without losing income from those in the seats ?
    For many a mass defection to standing, assuming it was realistically priced, would be financial suicide and if the price wasn't significantly less than that for seats who in their right mind would pay?

    Seating is safer, stadia are better equiped than they were since the introduction of all-seater grounds, more women and children attend games and the lack of atmosphere is a result of poor quality football being on display.

    I have no problem with the introduction of standing areas if clubs wish to go down that road provided they are as in Germany and strictly controlled as regards numbers allowed in plus of course they must be reasonably priced.

    This together with a winter break, more football played in what should be better weather and better football are all we need to get the show back on the road, not much to ask is it?

  • Comment number 14.

    Tom, Tom, Tom.. Why must you continue to bludgeon the Scottish league? When was the last time you attended a fixture? What are you basing this opinion we are constantly treated to on? Do you actually support a club team? Perhaps we could share a friendly discussion on your possible ways forward. Apparently I wouldn't even need to see them play to have a fervent opinion..

    With all the opportunities and privileges already extended to them, I certainly have no suggestions for England "the greatest underachieving team of all time", unless you count: Play Better.

  • Comment number 15.

    will standing at football improve the quality on show!! - I doubt it.

    The authorities in charge should bring back "standing areas", since everyone stands anyway, whether it be Pittodrie, Dens or Central Park, and the seats effectively just get in the way. The only time I use my seat at the football nowadays, is when the pre match session starts kicking out the hangover at half time, after all, who wants to watch Scottish football, (club or country) whilst sober.

    However, this will not bring fans back to the game - it may well enhance the match day experience for those attending, but until realistic prices are charged, fans will continue to be driven away from the game.

    As I sit at my PC, there is currently gale force winds and torrential rain out the window, and yet there is a full card in the SPL tonight (don't count Motherwell since a game at Fir Park at this time of year is a rarity - don't suppose the structural damage is to their floodlights by any chance or the usual flooding causing the corner wall to collapse) - what the h*ll are we playing football at this time of year for. Why should I pay £30 for the privelege of sitting in the freezing cold, eating crap food (unless it's a Killie pie) and being served up a pile of rubbish that is being sold as entertainment.

    is it any wonder that I am more likely to just go to the pub, cut out the middlemen, and just spend £30 in the pub, whilst watching mediocre fare in the comfort of a warm bar - and standing, where and when I like.

  • Comment number 16.

    As much as I don't truly like it, I can't see any way forward for Scottish football, apart from summer football and a small reduction in teams in the SFL or promotion/relgation from the junior leagues.

    Given that from December to February, you'll get entire SFL divisions being called off, I can't see how summer football hasn't already been "invented" for Scottish football - to do otherwise harms the integrity of the game IMO.

    Either that or regionalised football for SD1-SD3 where the country is split into 3 divisions - West, East, North (In effect Livi to Borders then to Irish Sea/North Sea, North of M8) and then the top-3 play a round-robin for promotion to SPL (2nd placed side plays off aginst 2nd bttm of SPL).

  • Comment number 17.

    Safe Standing Areas - yes but who cares, its hardly a contentious issue. Yawn.

    Summer football - yes but among others Peter Lawell doesn't and is on record saying that he does not want it. The SPL tried it years ago and then abandoned it but honestly who would pay to go and watch football on yet another December day when there there is an Amber weather alert? Mad.

    Oh yes, there is a big game on tonight - not that this blog ever discusses anything outside of sideline football issues which replace what happens in East of Scotland teams before the blog swiftly returns to the latter.

    Why do the English blogs cover their big teams and the Scottish blog covers our wee teams: which are interesting but certainly not more than what I had for my breakfast on any morning!

  • Comment number 18.

    You know what Jim ? It has to be summer football. Standing areas ? Anything that brings the fans must be considered but I see no sign that this would result in cheaper prices. Pricing is the essential problem allied with weather. As I write it would be daft to open up my back door. Moray is wild.

    #1, Absolutely correct. I would stand on my head to watch if it would make it any better. Time to focus on the team.

  • Comment number 19.

    hey jim wells ground is UNSAFE YET AGAIN TONIGHT for standers or sitters, dare anyone ever risk life or limb again in leafy lanarkshire. a wee jobby for u find out if you can and let us know. The Doncaster bothers himself with safe standing areas and he has a full programme of league games scheduled on the same night an OF game is live on the telly who is this man has he ever got a decision right since scaling hadrians and pitching up !!!

  • Comment number 20.

    #11 Totally agree .... you get bigger crowds at at bus stops than some of the
    SFL grounds

    #12 Clough and Paisley have won the EC 2 times and 3 times respectively with
    English teams,and Ramsey won the WC what your problem ?.How many
    Scottish managers have won a WC or even qualified for the knock out stages
    answer ....... NONE
    Alex Ferguson and Jock Steins had poor records with Scotland.Would Fergie win
    the SPL now with any team outside the OF nae chance

    Are you an insider ???

    #14 Facts old boy .... not hard luck stories from distant memories

  • Comment number 21.

    Question - standing or sitting ? will it improve the poor quality of Scottish football.

    Maybe but Scotland will not qualify for the 2014 WC in Brazil .... sorry bhoys

  • Comment number 22.

    james am furious at motherwells latest no show when are this club going to get docked points for not having a fit and proper ground. after 'cry baby' mccall moaned about the wind whistling off the tay and splitting one of jamie murphys eyelashes at tannadice the first gale means they cant ensure the safety of probably little over 3k folk at fir park following on from not being able to ensure the safety of approx double that number due to an electrical fault.... will leave it to others to complete this endless list of fir park woes ...........

  • Comment number 23.

    I asked if you had been to see a single fixture? - Apparently not.

    I asked if you had your own club? - Apparently not.

    I would ask if you have been into the future to see Scotland not qualify for the World Cup, but I needn't bother. You hardly seem the looking forward type..

  • Comment number 24.

    #19 I would imagine the scheduling of all SPL games for 7.45 last night was to take the heat out of the OF being the only one.
    It would appear from the comments made by the police that it was n't their decision to play at night in December yet wasn't that exactly what SPL and politicians said when the fixture was arranged?
    Apparently it hadn't occurred to any of them that a lot of people would be off work all week with ample to time to drink.

    All the way to the game last night I thought it would be off, and even hoped it would because of the wind, rain and cold, but am I glad it went ahead.
    Well done Neil and the Bhoys.

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 Bang on, the ootsider has probes with the easiest of tasks.
    #20 NAE CHANCE???? Is this no a scottish phrase??????
    So WHAURDIUCOMFY????
    THE TIMES printed in London made the managers list!!!!!
    Bob Paisley? Bill Shankly,s assistant who inherrited Bill Shankly,s team.
    I dont see a statue of Paisley ootside anfield!!!
    I suppose (Grobbelaar,Lawrenson,Whelan,Hansen,Dalglish,Souness,Rush,Nicol,Gillespie,Robinson,Heighway,Jones.LIVERPOOL)(McGovern,Burns,Robertson,Gemmill,O,Hare,Gray.FOREST) are ootsiders tae?????
    Questioning Sir Alex Ferguson,s record sums you up!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    # 25,

    Dinnae rise to tomslaver. He is a troll. Mair to be pitied than scorned !

  • Comment number 27.

    Part time, summer season (may - sept) and standing, is the only way forward for Scottish football maybe merging with the Irish and Welsh leagues(painful but true)
    Scottish teams record in Europe this year is even worse than mighty Cyprus and Israel this year.It has to recognise the past is the past

    Can anyone answer MY question will Scotland ever qualify for a World Cup in the next 20 years?.I predict NO because the whole league should be re organised for summer fitbae

    What do you call a Scottish player who played in the World Cup finals ....... Grandad

    #23 I support Croatia,Serbia,Wales and Macedonia (only joking)

    What is ootside ..... jimmy ?

    #25 Cannae rise baldy bhoy

    Fergies record WITH Scotland is poor numpty bhoy, and he wouldnae win a tea
    cup now if he managed a team other than the OF.Agree he is excellent in
    England that is his job we DO accept outsiders

  • Comment number 28.

    #25 Heighway,Lawrenson and Robinson were born in England and they chose to play for their grandad parents country ? what is your point ..... in a similar way to Bardsley and other second rate players now choose to play for Scotland?

 

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