Hillsborough Families Slate Safe Standing Plans

Proposals to introduce standing areas at football stadiums have been condemned by the families of the Hillsborough victims.

Aston Villa are one of 13 clubs supporting the Football Supporters Federation’s ‘safe standing campaign’, which is trying to encourage the government and the football authorities to introduce standing areas on a trial basis.

The scheme, which has been discussed at Westminster by MPs and industry experts, also has the backing of the SPL and the Safe Standing Roadshow. 

Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, believes that bringing back standing should be unthinkable.

She said: “There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed. There were 96 dead at Hillsborough and it could have been a lot more.

"Standing should never, ever come back. I do not think there is anything safe about standing.

"I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now."

The plan, that so far has the backing of 52 MPs, would see rail seats introduced at football grounds.

The rail seats are already widely used in the Bundesliga in Germany and are robust metal seats with a sturdy rail at the back of them that fans can hold on to.

A campaign spokesman said: "Week in, week out football supporters stand in their thousands at top level English football, all of them in accommodation that is unfit for purpose and usually to the detriment of other fans who prefer, or are forced, to sit.

"Meanwhile technology has moved on apace and we see fans across the globe – in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the USA - standing safely in properly designed and managed areas, paying lower prices and generating better atmospheres. In short, England and Wales are being left behind.

"Nobody associated with the Football Supporters' Federation's safe standing campaign wants to return to life on the terraces of the 1980s.”

Aston Villa and Peterborough United are two of the clubs that have already agreed to a trial of the technology, which also allows seats to be locked in an upright position to make more space for standing.

Peterborough United chief executive Bob Symms, who attended the conference at the House of Commons, said he “completely respects” the views of the Hillsborough families.

Symms added: “With the greatest of respect, I think this is something new. What I am asking is that this be piloted. This is about choice. This will be for football clubs who are interested in it.

"We are not going back to standing stadia. We are talking about democratic choice for the game we love. Many people want to stand.

The FSF's Safe Standing Campaign is supported by Aston Villa, Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Hull City, Peterborough United, Watford, AFC Wimbledon, the Scottish Premier League, the Safe Standing Roadshow and Stand up Sit Down.