‘We are now ready’ - the UK Government decision impacting Leeds United fans ahead of new season

A significant update on the possible introduction of safe standing areas was released earlier this week.

Friday, 8th July 2022, 5:00 pm

Leeds United’s Elland Road could house safe standing areas during the new Premier League season after a significant announcement from the government.

The White’s top-tier rivals Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all acted as ‘early adopters’ of the system during a trial period last season.

All four clubs are set to offer licensed safe standing areas for home and away supporters and will be followed by similar moves from Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

A government statement confirmed other Premier League clubs are ‘expected’ to take the same route during the new season and Wembley Stadium will also offer a ‘small licensed standing area’ for domestic fixtures later this season.

Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries said: “We want to make the experience of watching football as magical as the play on the pitch. Fans will now be able to cheer on their team from a seat or join others in a safe standing section to really get behind the players and roar on their heroes to victory.

“We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted. Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds.”

Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston added: “Based upon what I have experienced and we have learnt through the pilot programme, safe standing is set to deliver an electric atmosphere at our football stadiums.

“Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough football disaster.

“I am proud of the work that has gone into this rigorous process and that we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to get fans back on their feet in stadiums.”

The statement continued by revealing clubs have taken opinions from their supporters and confirmed a government commissioned trial had concluded safe standing areas had made a ‘positive impact’ on the matchday experience.

Elland Road already houses rail seating as the Whites look to move towards the introduction of safe standing areas.

Speaking to The Square Ball last year, chief executive Angus Kinnear addressed the situation, telling The Square Ball: “Elland Road has been highlighted as one of the stadia with the highest risk of what’s called a progressive crowd collapse, which is people falling over the seats.

“So it’s to avoid that issue. Ultimately, (rail seating) is not safe standing, and you’re still not allowed to have safe standing or advertise it as safe standing, but it means if a supporter were to persistently stand and they would push forward, they’d be falling onto the rail rather than into the person before them. So it’s just about making it safer.

“Our long term objective is to allow supporters to enjoy the game the way they want to. If they want to stand, we’re fully supportive of (safe) standing.

“And we think ultimately, and certainly in the new stadium, we would have a stadium which is a combination of seated and standing so supporters can enjoy the game in the way they want to.”