Safe-standing: Tracey Crouch says fans 'have evolved' since all-seater stadiums

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Richard Conway explains Shrewsbury Town's plans for safe standing

Sports minister Tracey Crouch says football fans "have evolved" since all-seater stadia were introduced, as she was quizzed by MPs on safe-standing.

Standing is not allowed in English football's top two divisions.

Crouch said stadiums are now "more family-friendly", as she reiterated the government's stance that there are no plans to change the current policy.

A petition asking for a rule change was signed by more than 100,000 people and MPs will debate the issue on 25 June.

Crouch also apologised for previously saying only a "vocal minority" wanted standing areas.

Last month, West Brom's proposal to introduce safe-standing at The Hawthorns was rejected by the government.

The Premier League asked for more evidence before it could be allowed at top-flight stadiums.

The law was introduced followed recommendations made in the Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

Crouch was speaking in Parliament at oral questions for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: "Many of us have fought for years for family-friendly football and some of us have deep reservation of standing areas."

Crouch replied: "The honourable gentleman is right - there has been a significant change since the all-seater stadia policy came in and spectators have evolved. It's a much more family-friendly place for people to go and watch football.

"However that is not to say we are not looking at ways we can accommodate those who do wish to stand but we don't have any plans at this particular moment to change the legislation."

The Football Supporters' Federation told BBC Sport "The sports minister's response does acknowledge that government is looking at ways to accommodate those who wish to stand although there is still more for fans to do to convince them of the need for change."

Almost 2,000 fans were asked for their views over a 16 month period by polling company Populus, on behalf of the Premier League.

While over two-thirds of fans supported standing areas, only 5% wanted to stand.

"While I regret using the phrase 'vocal minority' it is true that only 5% themselves would like to stand," said Crouch. "While I accept there is a wider group of very passionate fans who believe standing should be introduced."

Crouch has also said she has "secured a commitment" from the Football Association to not increase ticket prices for "another five years above inflation".

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