Last week while visiting a sunny Loftus Road, home of the Championships Queens Park Rangers, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister announced that a future Labour government would work with clubs and safety authorities to create safe standing areas at football matches as the calls for change continue to intensify.
Over the past decade we’ve had consultation after consultation with the issue always kicked into the long grass from this government. That’s why Labour are demanding the government drop their plans to start yet another review of safe standing and instead back Labour’s plan without delay.
After years of campaigning from official club supporters’ groups as well as some football clubs, the drumbeat for safe standing areas at English football grounds intensified.
In light of this, the Labour Party has decided to support our fans and football clubs by presenting proposals which would cap the number of safe standing spaces at 7,500 per stadium, which is in line with what the English Football League have already proposed.
After months of conversations with club hierarchy, supporters’ clubs and trusts, safety authorities, and football leagues, as well as meeting with Hillsborough families to discuss the move, Labour decided to undertake a full review of opinions around Safe Standing in football.
By working with those in football, as well as local safety authorities, we decided that the best way to rollout this strategy would be to give the power to decide to fans, clubs and those who keep us safe.
Clubs, fans and local authorities know their stadium and the area around it far better than anybody in Whitehall and we believe that the decision should rest with them as to whether to create a small area inside a stadium to be designated for Safe Standing.
In light of Labour’s decision, outgoing Premiere League executive chairman Richard Scudamore, confirmed (just last week) that the Premier League has decided to come out in favour of allowing its clubs a “local choice” as to whether to introduce safe standing. This follows the decision already made by the English Football League last month which called for clubs to be given a choice on whether to install standing areas – this is really positive and shows that the appetite for change means the government can no longer sit on its hands.
Closer to home, fans of both Manchester clubs are enthusiastic about the proposals with supporters of both United and City backing Labour’s proposal saying that it would improve the overall atmosphere at games as well as improving the fan experience and hopefully lead to decreases in some ticket prices. In fact both the Manchester United Supporters Trust and City’s
1894 Group travelled down to London to meet Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, and discussed the issue at a roundtable.
The matter of safe standing at football grounds is due to be debated in Parliament on 25 June, but Labour are clear, the laws which prevent standing at grounds in the Premier League and the Championship have to be changed, and should be changed within weeks.
It’s about time that we allow fans to enjoy our national sport safely, and in a way that includes their wishes – it’s about time we put fans first.