Premier League and Championship: Top clubs given permission to offer standing areas

Premier league
Premier League and Championship: Top clubs given permission to offer standing areas

Club in the Premier League and Championship will be able to offer licensed standing areas from next year January 1 as part of a pilot program. The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) set out the plans in a statement.

  • The introduction of designated safe standing areas would mean an end to the blanket ban on standing in the top two divisions of English football which has been in place for over 25 years.
  • Clubs must apply to be part of the “early adopter” program by October 6, and if approved will be able to operate a licensed standing area from New Year’s Day until the end of the season.
  • The SGSA said the project would be independently evaluated, with all other areas of the stadiums remaining all-seater. Standing areas in what is now the Premier League and Championship were outlawed by legislation passed in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.
  • The introduction of the licensed standing areas follows a commitment by the government in its 2019 general election manifesto, and it is a move that has cross-party support.
  • Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We have been clear that we will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing at football grounds providing there was evidence that installing seating with barriers would have a positive impact on crowd safety.
  • “With independent research now complete, and capacity crowds back at grounds across the country, now is the right time to make progress. I look forward to hearing from clubs who wish to be part of our early adopters’ program during the second half of this season.”
  • The move comes after research conducted during the 2019-20 season, before the coronavirus pandemic began, which found that seats with barriers or independent barriers helped reduce the safety risk of persistent standing.

The announcement affects clubs subject to the government’s all-seater policy. That includes clubs in the Premier League and Championship, or any club who have been in either of those divisions for three or more seasons since 1994-95, plus Wembley Stadium and the Principality Stadium.