Should standing areas return to football stadiums?

May 14, 2012, 1:21 PM GMT+0

Has the time come for standing areas to return to top-flight football? Or should it remain a thing of the past? Sports Lab participants share their thoughts.

Following a decision by the Scottish Premier League in December to allow the return of standing areas in the division, debate has stepped up as to whether this was a good idea, and whether the same should happen in English football.

Standing areas were present in all football stadiums across the UK up until the early 1990s. However, following the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, Lord Justice Taylor’s report in 1990 recommended the introduction of all-seated stadiums in the top two divisions of English football.

But it is now time to revisit the question of standing in the stadiums of the top football teams?

SportsLab participants have weighed in with their views on the potential for standing areas to return to football grounds

Looking at the span of debate, a key argument of those taking part was that standing areas created a better atmosphere in football grounds, by upping the sense of ‘involvement’, as well as creating a cheaper ticket option for football fans.

However others pointed to the potential safety hazards associated with standing in stadiums, and argued that better views of matches were often more likely from a seated area.

Should standing areas return to top-flight football? Join the debate!

Here is what Sports Lab participantsts argued…

1. Yes, football stadiums SHOULD have standing areas

Argument 1: It creates a better atmosphere

“Because you can be more enthusiastic about the game, and you feel much more involved in the atmosphere when you stand up, the fact that people are continuously told to sit down is enough of an argument for me that standing areas should be re-introduced. Safely of course” Kieran Sheppard, Leeds

“Creates a better atmosphere and human nature instinctively makes you jump out of your seat when something exciting happens!David Anderson, North Wheatley

“Currently I support a team which does still have standing areas. I find it irritating when visiting a team without standing. Standing at football matches increases the atmosphere and so people stand in all-seater stadiums anyway; which can be quite dangerous compared to standing on terraces” Anon

“I was a season ticket holder and live football fanatic. However the atmosphere and camaraderie, even the banter and sense of purpose and oneness are lost when you are seated. I like to feel I could choose my spot to watch and move if required also feel more involved when stood up” Paul Thompson northwest

“I was brought up standing on the terraces and would like a return. I think it leads to a better atmosphere. I was recently at a Scottish Cup tie at Gayfield Park in Arbroath and stood for the whole game – I really enjoyed it and it's also good to be able to walk around and change your positionWillie F, Glasgow

Argument 2: It would be a cheap alternative

“Why not? I'm sure there are some people who miss the terraces, and others who would happily choose the terrace over the seating. Presumably the terraces would be cheaper than the seats, so that could help working class people to reconnect with the sport they might feel priced out of” JE, Oxford

Ticket prices might go down and I would consider going to matches again. Have not been since they introduced all-seater stadiums” BI F, Woking

“Since seating was introduced it has become much harder and three times more expensive to see a gamePat S, Thamesmead

It would enable a lowering of prohibitive prices and increase attendances together with overall match day revenue” Les, Norwich

“Cost effective for the stadiums, make football more accessible to working people rather than a rich elite, keeps smaller clubs alive” Jeremy Hunt, Godalming

“It would give more fans a chance to see their team play as these tickets should also be cheaperMandi

Argument 3: It would be safe now

When the correct number of supporters are allowed to enter a well-designed terrace, there is no dangerAnon

Standing areas are not inherently unsafe. The Hillsborough Inquiry outcome necessarily held that seating was the safest stadium option, but advances in methodology and technology can now result in safe standing areasSteve C, Farnborough

“In the games involving Premiership clubs that I have been to, a large proportion of the crowd is standing for a lot of the game anyway. German practice shows safe standing is possible” Dick V, Manchester

“I think it could be handled properly now. A section of the ground could be designated for those who wish to stand. It happens in Germany; why not here?” Anon

I feel that they are safer than seated areas with fewer obstructions for emergency exits and less 'ammo' available” Anon

We stand a lot of the time anyway, and seems ridiculous to be forced to sit down when there is no need as safe standing areas are in force all over the world” Richard, Sheffield

2. No, football stadiums should NOT have standing areas

Argument 1: It's not safe to have standing

“Where do I start? Overcrowding, crowd surges, crushing, pitch invasions, injuries, etc., have largely been relegated to history since the introduction of seats-only stadiums. Let's not go backwards.” Anthony, Derby

“There was a very good reason why standing areas at football grounds were banned, and that reason still stands. It is too much of a risk; it only takes one incidentAnon

“There are certain types of football fans in this country who cannot be trusted to behave properlyAnon

It is unsafe and could lead to over-crowding. Whilst standing has some safety plus-points, such as less chance of seats being used as projectiles, and easier people management, overall I feel that it is unsafe. Football has also become a family event now and I believe that is a good thing and that seating facilitate children to be at the event” Charlotte, Preston

“Because it's impossible to prevent people in a ‘pen’ area gathering together, rather than remaining evenly distributed, and it's that that increases the risks of something happening, turning an incident into an emergency” Anon

The risk is too great to allow football supporters to stand; up to now there have been no incidence of fatalities since sitting was made compulsory let us keep it that way” Mick S, Glos

“I don't see any need to. It's uncomfortable and would make interaction amongst fans easier, leading to increased confrontationEadwyn, Bitterne

Argument 2: Sitting is more comfortable with better views

“To be able to sit is much more preferable, the amount of money it costs to go to these venues it is an insult that you have to stand as well. For the majority of people, having to stand would be very painful due to back problems, would be difficult for the elderly, and just plain uncomfortableAnon

“Things are fine as they are. Standing is boring and hurts your legsPip, Brum

“There is a much better view for all if everyone is seated. This is particularly important, as not everyone is physically capable of standing and some people are otherwise disadvantaged by height” Anon

I like to see the game, not the back of someone’s headMal, Kent

“Finally, I believe seats are better because I'm short, and would not want to get stuck standing behind someone who is much taller than me. Seats negate any problems I have with viewing the match” Karen F., Surrey

“More comfortable, less weary, no danger of being crushed, pushed or knocked over. Far more enjoyable as a spectator and far easier to view the pitchJohn Mac, Newcastle

Should standing areas return to top-flight football? Join the debate!