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Labour back 'safe standing' at football matches

By Greg Heffer, political reporter
Labour have come out in support of football fans having the right to stand at matches.
The party is backing the introduction of "safe standing" at major grounds, with a reversal of the near 30-year rule requiring all-seater stadiums.
Decisions on whether some supporters should be allowed to stand during games should be left to clubs, fans and local authorities rather than government, Labour believe.Stadiums in England's top two leagues have had to be all-seater since laws were introduced in 1989, in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.Pressure has grown for a rethink of the ban after 100,000 people signed a petition calling for safe standing earlier this year, which has triggered a debate in parliament later this month.
Labour back 'safe standing' at football matches

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Celtic have piloted a 'safe standing' area
A recent survey of 33,000 fans by the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) and the English Football League (EFL), which represents clubs below the Premier League, also revealed 94% believe they should have the option between sitting and standing at games.Both the FSF and EFL are pursuing a change in legislation for football stadiums, while many fans argue they would be safer standing in specially designed areas rather than standing in all-seater stadiums.Scottish champions Celtic have already piloted a safe standing area at their stadium with the use of rail seating.The UK government has so far stood firm on the ban on terraces for top English clubs, although the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is "looking into any changes that may be needed".Ministers rejected a recent request by West Brom to introduce a standing area at their ground for next season.Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan will unveil Labour's new position at QPR's Loftus Road stadium.
Labour back 'safe standing' at football matches

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Rosena Allin-Khan is unveiling Labour's policy at QPR's ground
The party want designated safe standing spaces capped at 7,500 per stadium - which represents about 10% of Manchester United's capacity at their Old Trafford stadium, the largest club ground in the UK.
Labour have highlighted how football fans are asked to sit during games, but audiences at pop concerts held at the same grounds are able to stand without restrictions.Dr Allin-Khan has spoken with Liverpool supporters groups and Hillsborough families about the issue, as well as hosting a roundtable with supporters trusts from across England.Announcing Labour's new policy, she is expected to accuse ministers of having "dragged their feet" on the issue.She will say: "We want to give the power to fans, clubs and local safety authorities, to allow for a small area inside a stadium to be designated for safe standing."Clubs, fans and local authorities know their stadium far better than anybody in Whitehall - the decision should rest with them."This is about safety, the current system isn't working, people are standing in unsafe seated areas, and accidents can happen."We would allow the installation of specialised rail seating where appropriate, or standing in current seated areas where it can be made safe to do so."A DCMS spokesperson said: "Over a million people watch football every week and we are grateful for the engagement of fans from across the country in expressing their views.
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"We are looking into any changes that may be needed, are in discussions with the football authorities and relevant stakeholders and are keen to carefully review the evidence on the matter."The sports minister also looks forward to discussing at length the nuances and complexities of sports ground safety in parliament later this month."
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