Labour to bring back standing at Premier League matches from next year if it wins election
Labour will re-introduce standing at top-flight football matches for the first time since Hillsborough next year if it wins an election.
Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan said it would not be a “return to the terraces of the 1980s, but a modern and safe way for fans to stand”.
Writing for FourFourTwo magazine, she said if her party gets into Government in the widely-expected upcoming election, then safe standing will be introduced in time for the 2020/21 season.
She said: “Let me be clear: this is first and foremost about fan safety – the current system is just not working for supporters week in, week out.
“People are standing in unsafe seated areas, and accidents can – and do – happen.
“The options available, where appropriate, would be the installation of specialised rail seating, or standing in current seated areas where it can be made safe to do so by installing a barrier.
“Safe standing would also improve the matchday experience for those who want to sit but don't want their view blocked by someone standing in front of them.
“This is about giving fans a proper say.”
Standing at matches in the top two divisions of English football was phased out after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
In the wake of the tragedy, in which 96 people died, the Taylor Report recommended a move to all-seater stadiums.
The rules have since softened for the lower and non-leagues, but standing at both Premier League and Championship matches is illegal, despite many fans still doing it.
The Government has commissioned the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to look into bringing it back, but a review published earlier this year said there was still a lack of evidence.
That delayed any trial of safe standing until at least next season, although both Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur have installed areas with rail seats at their stadiums in anticipation of it being allowed again.
Ms Allin-Khan said Labour has pledged to make sure sports are “run in the interests of those who participate in it and love it – not just for a privileged few”, and has consulted widely on the issue.
She added: “This is a step forward for football, not a return to the 1980s.
“Stadiums and matchday operations have vastly improved over the last 30 years, meaning it is possible for standing areas to be introduced safely.
“There are plenty of examples from around Europe to prove that.”