Colchester MP wants return of football standing areas

An Essex MP is backing a campaign for the return of standing areas at football grounds.

A bill, to get a second reading in the House of Commons in June, would allow clubs to "build, or maintain existing, safe standing sections in stadia".

Colchester MP Bob Russell said: "We're talking about small pens, perhaps no more than 10 deep with crash barriers."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it did not believe there was a "compelling case" for change.

Clubs in the top two divisions of English football must operate an all-seater policy.

Any club promoted to the Championship - the second tier - is given three years to bring its facilities up to standard.

In an interview with the BBC's Late Kick Off programme, Liberal Democrat Mr Russell said: "I feel a lot safer standing on the terraces with a crash barrier than when you go to an all-seater stadium and hundreds of people start standing up.

"I'm pretty sure the clubs we have in the east of England would be able to find spaces within their stadia where they could remove the seats, put in a safe standing area."

The Safe Standing (Football Stadia) Bill was first brought to Commons by Liberal Democrat MP for Bath Don Foster in December and is due its second reading on 17 June.

Supporters of the bill believe creating standing areas would enable clubs to sell more tickets and therefore reduce the price of admission.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport reads: "The majority of football grounds are safer and more comfortable than they were 20 years ago.

"We do not believe there is a compelling case to change the long standing policy on all-seater stadia.

"This is not just an argument about safety but also public order and looking after fans on match days."

All seater stadiums were brought in following the Hillsbrough disaster in April 1989, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

In the aftermath, The Taylor Report recommended all major stadiums should remove standing areas and install seating.

The English Football League then said clubs in the highest divisions should adhere to the recommendation.

Late Kick Off on BBC One in the East of England at 2315 GMT on Monday, 28 February.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites