After former Sports Minister Tracy Crouch’s dismissive comments on Safe Standing back in 2018, reignited the discussion and led to a successful petition to get safe standing debated in the House of Commons, the prospect of safe standing has become an inevitability.
With the upcoming General Election on 12th December, all political parties have had a chance to layout their commitment to football isis-porters unfollowing the Football Supporters’ Association Fan Manifesto.
Both the manifestos of both Labour (“We will regulate safe standing in stadiums”) and the LibDems (“We will… move towards introducing ‘safe standing’ at football clubs”) supported the move, and the publication over the weekend by the Conservatives (“We will… work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing”) of their manifesto, echoed the desire to get safe standing legislated.
It now means, whoever forms the next government, the year 2020 should see real progress in terms of the implementation of standing for the first time in three decades in top tier English football.
Aston Villa had originally led the call for the introduction of standing areas in the Premier League, but several ownership changes and staff overhauls have compromised the club’s direction on the issue.
Villa, historically a pioneering club in English football, over recent decades have become a reactionary club, happy to follow the actions of others, as opposed to leading by example.
In recent Fan Consultation Group meetings, the Head of Stadium Security at Villa, has voiced concerns over persistent standing in the Holte, but has been more concerned about finding immediate solutions (that don’t exist), than using the current problems that the club faces, as leverage to get the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) and Council to throw their hats into the ring to lobby the government for the practical sanctioning of standing areas in stadiums.
Up until now, it seems to be just football supporters and their respective organisations that have driven the common sense solution.
Currently, there is no remedy to the whole lower Holte End standing at big games (such as local derbies or matches against Liverpool and Manchester United), but the introduction of standing areas will provide the club with a realistic measure that could address the issue.
With the Conservatives the most likely party to form the next government, it’s heartening to see them also pledging to “set up a fan-led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners and Directors Test”.
MOMS understands a leading Conservative minister, who will be influential in actioning such review, was particularly impressed by the Football Supporters’ Association’s recent proposal on football governance, and it could now form the backbone of any improved governance measures.