Safe standing explained: How could it work at Leeds United?

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Ever wondered how safe standing could work if it is ever re-introduced to English football?

We've got the explainer for you...

Safe Standing Roadshow.

Safe Standing Roadshow.

The background

The ban on standing at football is a legacy of the Hillsborough disaster and was implemented on recommendations made by Lord Justice Taylor’s report following the tragedy. The Safe Standing Roadshow, headed by campaigner Jon Darch, is an event that gives fans across the country, public services, MPs and the wider general public the opportunity to see how safe standing works and raise any concerns they may also have about its implementation if approved in future.

Last month the EFL also issued its ‘Stand up for Choice’ questionnaire which set out with the aim of polling all supporters within the Football League over whether they would like to see standing return as an option to the English game.

Why are we seeing such a movement now?

Following West Bromich Albion's request to introduce safe standing at the Hawthorns earlier this year, which was rejected by sports minister Tracey Crouch, a petition received over 111,000 signatures from across England and will now see the subject debated in parliament in late June.

The rail seating.

The rail seating.

Jon Darch, the campaigner leader, believes: "People talk about a return to standing. There is no return, it's already here. Thousands of fans every week stand but they're standing in areas not designed for the purpose. We just want to offer a safe way to do it."

What is rail seating?

Robust metal seats with a high back forming a sturdy rail for safe standing, they are fitted in place of normal seats and link together to create a continuous rail along the row. The height and strength comply with government requirements and have also been approved by UEFA for World Cup and European fixtures where seats are required.

The seats fold upright to allow room to stand but also when folded down allow similar room for seated viewing when needed.

Safe Standing Roadshow.

Safe Standing Roadshow.

Can you use the seat in a dedicated standing area?

No, once in place the seats are locked upright therefore cannot be used if the area is a dedicated standing area (see video above).

How much of the stadium could be standing only?

Standing areas at this moment in time represent around 10%-15% of a football stadium it is estimated, the campaign is suggesting a safe way for those who stand already at games each week a safe and more enjoyable alternative whilst allowing those who want to stay seated the option also.

What the campaign say the benefits are...

Answers fans' call for choice

Makes football more socially inclusive

Counters problems of ageing fan base

Safer than standing at low-backed seats

Saves money on seat repairs

Better access for paramedics and stewards

Rails make it harder for offenders to flee

Stadium remains UEFA and FIFA compliant

Examples...

Rail seating is extremely popular in Germany where safe standing has been implemented across the Bundesliga. Clubs who use the rail seating that is being backed in the campaign are Hannover 96, Werder Bremen, Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and HSV.

Within British football Celtic installed a 2,975 section safe standing section in 2015 that has been extremely popular with fans. Season tickets within the area sold out in record time and there is now a waiting list that boasts nearly 3,000 names.

How could it work at Leeds United?

If approved the most obvious places for safe standing to be re-introduced at Elland Road would be the north and south stand area where fans regularly remain on their feet throughout the game.

The 'cheese wedge' as it is commonly known among Whites fans could also be used as a potential area for a safe standing trial to be undertaken if new legislation is ever implemented.

What next?

The issue will be debated in parliament in late June with the campaign gathering more and more support with each passing week.

How can you get involved?

Lead campaigner Jon Darch says ahead of the parliamentary debate: "Write to your local MP, ask them if they know enough and if they don't point them to the website and they can find all the information needed. If they can at least inform their MP that it is of concern then they may well want to speak at the debate. We just want those who talk in parliament to be fully informed whether they are for or against safe standing."

Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

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