Safe-standing: Government to review safe-standing

By Richard ConwayBBC sports news correspondent
Richard Conway explains Shrewsbury Town's plans for safe standing

The Government is set to commission a fundamental review into the issue of standing at matches in the Premier League and Championship.

Officials have spoken to the Premier League and EFL about a review into all-seater stadiums being mandatory.

The issue will be debated in Parliament on 25 June. And government source said the "time is right" to look at the it.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch had said there were no plans to change the all-seater policy at stadiums.

She was speaking in April after West Brom, who have since been relegated from the Premier League to the Championship, had a proposal to introduce safe standing at The Hawthorns rejected by the government.

Standing in English football's top two divisions was outlawed by the Football Spectators' Act in 1989, following recommendations made in the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

But, after more than 100,000 people signed a petitionexternal-link which called for Premier League and Championship clubs to allow safe-standing, the issue will be discussed in Parliament.

Crouch is understood to be keen to discuss safety at stadiums, and the impact of improved technologies and stadium design.

A government source said: "Safety of supporters is paramount. However we recognise that technology and stadium design has evolved since the all-seater policy was introduced and the time is right to look at the issue.

"The sports minister has not shut the door to fans keen on standing sections being introduced but it is important that all the evidence and viewpoints are considered extremely carefully."

West Brom proposed a pilot scheme that would have meant 3,600 seats at The Hawthorns were converted to 'rail seats', which can be locked in an upright position.

It was rejected by the government, and the Football Supporters' Federation responded by saying Crouch was "declaring war on fans".

Clubs including Scottish champions Celtic and Germany's Hoffenheim already use pockets of rail seating, and League One side Shrewsbury Town will install more than 500 this summer.

Celtic's safe standing: how does it work?

'A significant development' - analysis

BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent Richard Conway

Standing at football has not gone away with the advent of all-seater stadia in the Premier League and Championship.

At pretty much every match you can witness a group or groups of supporters standing - an issue which can result in injuries for fans who sometimes fall over the backs of seats, especially when celebrating a goal.

West Brom tried and failed to get permission for a trial. Since then an EFL supporters' survey showed there is overwhelming support amongst its fanbase for safe-standing to be introduced.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch has been subjected to unnecessary and at times unpleasant abuse on social media over the matter in recent weeks - but this policy review shows she is listening to the many voices within some big Premier League and EFL clubs, safety officers and fans who want her to consider changing the law.

This is a significant development, then - but there are still major practical issues to resolve if the review eventually recommends amending the legislation. Campaigners will be pleased - but their fight is not over yet.

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