Take Your Seats For The Debate On Standing

STANDING at football is getting a squeeze onto the political agenda again. And there isn’t even an election looming. The contentious idea gets floated occasionally, usually by an opportunist MP or candidate in a marginal constituency with a Championship sized football club and where a few hundred idealist supporters ushed through the ballot box by such a gesture can make all the difference.
In 2001 then sports minister Kate Hoey was persuaded by a coalition of supporters groups to push for a reform of the Football Licencing Authority and allow for new, well engineered German-style “safe standing” terracing areas to be developed if clubs wanted it but the initiative stalled as it ran into the powerful defensive wall built from the emotional impact of the Hillsborough families campaign and a marked lack of support within the Cabinet.
This time it is well organised national fans group the Football Supporters’ Federation leading the campaign to reopen the debate on an issue that still bubbles after a generation of compulsory seating. The idea won’t go away because standing is instinctive at moments of high drama – and those are the moments that galvanise and excite supporters, those moments that are part and parcel of why we love the game.

It is not about a return to terraces. No-one wants to go back to crumbling old shelves that are badly designed, have bad sight-lines and are impossible to steward. Noro is it about creating an environment where hooligan elements can flourish. It is about safe standing, numbered, ticketed, fairly policed, special designated areas where people are not forced to sit by draconian stewards enforcing the current legislation.
People will always stand at moments of high excitement. It is safer to do that in an area designed for that than it is an area designed for sitting. It is also easier to slip off to the concourse or to beat the traffic without disrupting the whole row.
And it may help foster an atmosphere and offer a choice for the increasing numbers of fans who choose not to sit in sterile and soulless all-seater modern stadiums.
The FSF is to launch an on-line petition as part of its campaign to re-open the debate at a time when the game is under greater scrutiny than ever before. A Parliamentary inquiry is on-going into the lax governance of the game, regulation of clubs and the economics of the madhouse that have brought a string of teams to the brink of implosion.
That comes against the background of falling crowds right across the game and a general feeling of disconnect between clubs and fans and what appears a general consensus that a lack of the intangible “atmosphere” is part of the problem. These things have been discussed widely on the blog before.
The FSF had a meeting on Monday with representatives from the police, Government and football authorities and were heartened that the issue wasn’t dismissed out of hand. The government have said they will look at any concrete evidence that there is a demand from supporters, that it is practical to reintroduce, possible to police and that there is a will from clubs to move in that direction or a belief that it is financially viable.
Current sports minister Hugh Robertson said he would examine the evidence for safe standing but played down any likelihood of a change to the law. “The Government appreciates that there are some supporters who would like to see the return of standing areas at football stadia, but do not believe that a compelling case has been made to change the policy, ” he said. The petition is the first step by the FSF to build that case.
The opposition will be considerable – media, policing authorities, stadium safety chiefs, the Hillsborough campaign and big club bean counters wield considerable power while the bogeyman of hooliganism is always at hand to shape the debate. The coalition of political problems facing the campaign have been catalogued and weighed up by the excellent David Conn in the Guardian here.
Chief of those problems was summed when Robertson told the meeting that there was an institutional fear wihin goverment because should there be an accident or crowd trouble on reintroduced terraces. “The minister’s head would be on a spike on Tower Bridge before he could draft a resignation letter,” he said, frankly.
And the Premier League have already moved to head off the move at the pass. Spokesman Dan Johnson said: “Our view is that the benefits of all-seater stadia far outweigh the return of standing areas.”
But the Premier League is dominated by clubs locked into the all seater financial model. And lower league clubs are not bound by the legislation and are free to keep their standing areas. It is only on promotion to the netherworld of the Championship and the prospect of five figure crowds that the thorny problem is raised (Scunthorpe are currently caught in that particular vice)
And it is among that layer of medium-to-large clubs where any possible solution lies.
Championship clubs do not have the luxury of TV money to insulate them from the economics of drifting crowds. In the Premier League the Sky Sports cheque supports the bloated wage bill, the transfer spending and all the trappings of the big time.
But at the next step down every penny counts. As teams like Boro have found, once the parachute payments run out and the iron grip of the season ticket is released, money through the gate is king. And as crowds are sensitive to all manner of pressures – results, the sexiness of the opposition, the manager’s post-match spiel, the weather – it is a financial model where a couple of thousand extra on the gate makes the difference.
Is it time for the second tier to be brave and break ranks with two decades of consensus on seating and carve out some leeway to bring in controlled standing sections? Small, well designed (and well policed) safe standing areas could be part of a mosaic of pricing and ticketing models that allow them to appeal to a wide range of constituencies.
There is a massive disenfranchised layer of potential fans who have been priced out of football, or frozen out during the sell-out boom years. The teenagers from the estates who were by-passed by the Premiership but who carry the flame and could easily be harnessed with a more imaginative approach to pricing and the matchday experience. Groups of lads who want to stand, who want to chant and who want to sing and who see nothing to attract them in seats in the sedate family areas.
We have seen from the growth of the Red Faction that there are people who want to gather with likeminded individuals and make a racket. We know too that such passion needs to be focused and carefully stewarded. Dedicated safe standing areas may offer a way forward in that for an adventurous club. It may also offer another niche in the pricing structure that would allow some flexibility for clubs looking to attract new groups in without alienating existing seated season ticket holders.
Looking at safe standing areas may also offer an opportunity to reconfigure grounds, in Boro’s case to move passionate home fans behind the South Stand goal and shift the ever dwindling numbers of visiting supporters somewhere out of harm’s way where they can’t influence the game but can be easily policed. Only once this season has the prime spot behind the South Stand goal been occupied. That can’t be right. It looks awful. If we could get Boro fans behind that goal stood roaring the team on it could make a massive difference to atmosphere and maybe even results. and now the Red Lion Boro fans’ bar is established there it makes more sense to make it a permanent arrangement and put it at the heart of a reinvigourated fan culture.
Suggestions to that effect in the past have been quickly rejected: the rake of the stands is not right for terracing; the concourse design means the South Stand is the only place to house large numbers of visitors; it would be too expensive… but the dynamics of the club and the game have changed along with visiting numbers and there may now be mileage in looking at all those things again. And more. It must be worth exploring.
We have a manager now who earned considerable kudos by explaining that his love for the club came from his dad and lad apprenticeship watching Boro from the terraces. We have the Power Game. The club sell a variety of retro-shirts. There is an implicit acceptance that much about the old experience was valid, is powerful and has a role in harnessing the collective power of the crowd in the present.
I don’t expect Boro – or any club – to suddenly have a Damascene conversion to safe standing and go-it-alone. But it would be nice to think that rather than being dismissed, now that it is on the agenda again, it is at least being explored and discussed. If it can be used in some way to boost the crowd – either in numbers or in volume – it should be.
Nationally it will take some hard work politically to create the momentum within the game but many clubs of Boro’s stature are feeling the pinch and struggling to prop up crowds. There is room there for an assertive alliance of progressive clubs to push for standing – or at least the ability to experiment with it – as a possible addition to their armoury. I’d like to think Boro could be in there with them.
This is a government hostile to the health and safety ethos of the ‘nanny state,’ that is theoretically committed to deregulation of business, to rolling back layers of local beaurocracy and to a “big society” approach of letting socially valuable institutions take control of their own affairs. There are buttons there to be pressed.
He’s a few things I’ve been pointing people’s browsers at on Twitter of late…
Pre-Sky inflatable footy fun with a nostalic look back at the cult of the inflatable. Where can I get a job lot of blow up Transporters and Parmos?
It was Cloughie’s birthday last week which is as good an excuse as any to rerun the gobby goal-getter’sTV clash with Don Revie that inspired The Damned United.
Bones Like Ghosts: a brilliant, beautiful, evocative squiggly animated homage to Gareth Bale’s destruction of Inter Milan through the medium of felt pens.
Plus archive footage of Stephen Bell, Carlos Marinelli and Alen Boksic.


41 thoughts on “Take Your Seats For The Debate On Standing

  1. If the FSF want safe standing in football then the key question that needs to be addressed is what’s in it for the government?
    There is a clear case for clubs and supporters, but very little for those with the power to change the law.
    It may prove a popular move with some wavering voters and it may also be appetising for politicians eager to push “the big society”, but is that enough?
    There is no election on the horizon and, personally, I get the impression that few politicians (including Conservatives) are keen on Cameron’s Big Society.
    There are some clear advantages to standing and they are not just for the nostalgic, but a far more compelling case than what is currently on offer must be found if the government are to take serious note.

  2. I think there’s also a very strong case against re-introducing standing – whether you can label it safe or not is a moot point.
    Not sure what the clear advantages are. But I am sure what the disadvantages are. I suffered from them in quite a lot of my football watching over the decades, though not in the extreme way that folks did in many grounds – here and in Europe – that led to the Taylor report, all seater stadia and the improvements we’ve all seen.
    Going back now – not that I think it’ll happen, despite this rally of interest – is a bit like running an argument about why you need so much security on a vault when you haven’t had a robbery on that vault in all the years you’ve had the security (forgetting the six robberies you had in the year before you installed the security).
    Take the security out and see what happens. Allow standing areas again in currently all seater stadia and see what happens.

  3. I loved standing on the Holgate. Would only have done it five or six times but it was by far a better experiance than sitting. Yes there were good reasons for the introduction of all seater stadia but was the baby thrown out with the bath water?
    Also at six foot five, sitting in a football ground is not a pleasant experiance. At Old Trafford for the Chesterfield cup semi I had to ask half a row to move along one so I could get on the aisle seat as I couldn’t physically fit in the seat.
    And how come I can go to Hartlepool and stand and then travel the short journey to Middlesbrough I cannot?
    Safe standing please.

  4. AV,the main reason for the falling attendances is the high prices and the economic situation.
    That apart I fully support the idea but I think its a none starter because there is no political advantage for anyone to push it through.
    **AV writes: With the financial squeeze on middle sized clubs and with falling crowds maybe there is an incentive for some of them to push for it, to ask for a relaxation in the current rules to let them experiment on more creative marketing and pricing. It can be presented as a compelling economic case and an issue of choice for the consumer. And don’t the Tories like that kind of thing?

  5. John Powls –
    I don’t think a re-introduction to standing areas will happen either, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it as an idea.
    You say you are “not sure what the clear advantages are”. You always seem like an intelligent man, John – I’m sure you can acknowledge and understand why some supporters would like to be able to stand.
    And if some of those supporters are also some of the ones who’ve been turned off coming to the Riverside, then it could be advantageous to the club too, at least in the long term.

  6. A few years ago I started writing to the away clubs immediately after a visit to point out that they had a no standing policy and to thank them for not enforcing. I would also write to the head of the local constabulary to ask why it wasn’t enforced, to the relevant safety officers and to the local MP.
    Eventually I gave up my (short lived) campaign, moved house and threw the box files away. But from memory..
    The clubs uniformly said they had policies and their procedures in place and were constantly under review and that they took their responsibilities very seriously.
    The Police referred me to the club. The safety officers never ever responded.
    The Arsenal MP said he’d attended the game (at which I’d merrily stood throughout) and said to the effect that he was a season ticket holder at the Emirates, had been to the game and hadn’t seen anything unusual. Which as I was no means alone in standing, means that:
    a) all visiting fans always stand for the duration or
    b) he’s sat behind directly Wenger and can’t see over the manager’s shoulders.
    Some club’s responded with humour, others with sarcasm, most to their credit responded. Including our own.
    As I remember, all the clubs hid behind the law as the reason for all-seater stadia and none suggested any desire to change.
    It struck me at the time that the best way to have the law changed would be to demand full compliance with it. A campaign to demand the clubs, the police and the stewards enforce an unpopular (and to my mind poorly-worded law – the key phrase being ‘persistant standing’) is the best way for to change the clubs’ view of it.
    The key to embarrassing the authorities in this manner is available. Mobile phones with video record can be used to gather evidence of fans standing and, importantly, of the police and stewards doing nothing about it.
    Then of course it can all be posted on Youtube, or a dedicated website, or wherever. With evidence of non-compliance, pressure can be brought to prosecute the clubs. The clubs can be fined, forced to play behind closed doors or even shut down on safety grounds (I believe).
    Or the clubs will have to resort to ever increasing draconian actions to enforce the law. A scenario could develop where clubs have to eject their paying customers in ever increasing numbers. Or fans would stop going.
    In either case, the clubs finances will be hurt and that more than anything may persuade them to seek a change in the relevant law. These tactics did for the Empire. (British, not evil intergalactic.)
    Dialogue alone won’t change anything. Direct (non violent) action might.
    **AV writes: That is a very interesting perspective. The fact that most clubs routinely fail to act on away fans standing while enforcing the rules on home fans stood just yards away is not only a breath-taking act of brass-necked hypocrisy but it is always a source of friction between stewards and supporters.

  7. I was at Hillsborough on the fateful day. I don’t think standing will return to our major stadia.
    If it is, it will never return to the cramped conditions previously experienced by fans – which helped to generated the atmosphere and contributed to the matchday atmosphere.
    Squeezing through a funnel to get out of the Holgate End after a game was a disaster waiting to happen. Fortunately, stadium design has moved on. Without Hillsbrough, Middlesbrough would still be playing at the toilet previously known as Ayresome Park.
    Sorry if that offends those wearing rose tinted specs.
    **AV writes: No-one has ever demanded a return to those days (although to say they are is the kneejerk response of opponents). The starting point of the campaign is giving clubs the opportunity to introduce modern, well designed designated safe standing areas where they think it is viable and there is demand.

  8. I agree with John on this one. I’ve been in too many grounds over the years where movement of a packed crowd down the terrace might have resulted in disaster or serious injury.
    As a youngster I used to enjoy the experience on the Holgate over many years – the camaraderie, the chants and songs, the smells, the passion – but I didn’t enjoy having some b*****d peeing dowm my leg because he couldn’t be bothered going to the pissoir down the back of the stand, and I definitely didn’t enjoy the bottle thrown by a Hearts supporter (in a “friendly”) that bounced off my shoulder.
    This season I have enjoyed standing at Chesterfield and Burton because they are smaller grounds with low terraces and little danger, but I still sometimes relive the nightmare of Hillsborough, even though it was only seen on TV. I can still see the graphic newspaper images of dying faces crushed against the fencing. Don’t ever want to return to those days, thank you.
    And now, because I’m a grumpy old git, I actually hate it when I pay for a seat and everybody stands. I’m 6 foot 2 so I can see, but I see lots of kids at matches who have no chance when it’s standing. It may be more passionate when you’re standing up, but at my age and with my hernia, it’s far less comfortable.

  9. We already have 100% standing, at away games.
    The powers that be (who have already decided that there won’t be designated seating areas, presumably because you can charge more for a seat)continue to turn a blind eye to standing presumably for the same reason.

  10. Properly designed standing areas (smaller enclosures like those in germany) are not dangerous.
    However, as far as Boro are concerned it would be a non-starter as introducing standing essentially means spending money to increase the capacity of the Riverside to charge them less to get in. So probably not on the agenda of clubs playing in front of stadiums less than half full.
    I think the idea will appeal only to clubs looking to fit more people into the ground – e.g. Liverpool, Newcastle.

  11. Andy R
    Thanks for thinking I sound intelligent! Now that I’ve managed to blag my way to that after all these years I can move on to faking sincerity. Once I’ve cracked that there’ll be no stopping me……
    Seriously, I do understand the variety of reasons why some supporters would want to be able to stand. And why some clubs would want to let them.
    I also understand why some of those ‘some’ would want to stand. That’s the very reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to. I know that might disadvatage the rest of the ‘some’ and that’s a pity – but it’s greatest good for the greatest number.

  12. Lest we forget, the tragedy at Hillsborough was caused by my than one factor.
    The prime reason was that there were more fans than the stand could hold. The previous year Liverpool fans got in without tickets, the year of the disaster had many fans trying to get in and the police opened the gates to prevent crushing outside the ground.
    The design of the ground then played its part in the horrible tragedy, one of my employees came back to work and his ribcage was black and blue. He was quiet for months afterwards.
    I cant see us going back to standing, I suspect that the terraces are too steep on many of the new grounds – the benefit of good sightlines comes from the steepness.
    At Ayresome Park you got several rows of fans on each step, at the Riverside you would struggle unless you rebuilt the stands.

  13. It’s interesting that the major concerns from posters above about “returning” to standing are ones of safety. And returning to the standing and access arrangements of the 80s would be a scary idea.
    However, the David Conn article that AV linked to explains that even the police effectively admit (at an official parliamentary session) that standing can be done safely.
    They say that their principal reason to retain seating is not because they need seating to guarantee safety but as a means of crowd control. In other words, seating allows them to identify and eject troublemakers more easily.
    Surely then, we’ve moved a far enough away from the 80s (or could move far away from the 80s if it was properly thought about) in terms of terrace design and CCTV to allow the police or stewards to control the crowds without the need for seating.
    **AV writes: The advocates of safe standing are stressing at every turn that such areas could easily be all ticket, all numbered, and well policed (and self policed) to head off such objections.

  14. I don’t think anybody is proposing a return to 80’s style terracing or all-standing stadiums.
    I’m sure the proposals are for a standing section, with multiple barriers to restrict movement and clearly defined capacities.
    I agree with Werdermouth – there is a succesful model for this already in place in Germany.
    Personally, I think I would prefer to watch my football from a seated area, but I can perfectly understand why some would prefer to stand and why offering the choice could appeal to clubs.
    But so long as there remains no great political incentive I see no reason why the law will change, and also, as Werdermouth suggests, it is unlikely to be cost effective for many clubs anyway.
    **AV writes: If it can be used to bring in, say 1,000, people who otherwise wouldn’t go, then it could be more than cost effective.
    The key would be pricing it and marketing it creatively as part of a mosaic of different packages. Clubs won’t go for standing at a tenner if the main demand comes from people who are already paying £20 for instance.

  15. Perhaps standing could lead to a loss of revenue for clubs as spectators choose the cheaper ticket.
    Where is the evidence that standing brings in new fans? I’m guessing there isn’t any.

  16. Having been to many away matches and stood in all seater stands there is a kind of logic in allowing people to do so rather than have designated standing areas.
    You cant go very far backing up David A’s point that it helps policing.
    One benefit to standing would be to have an area for those who never watch the match and stand there cursing and swearing at the rival fans. You could probably put it outside the ground so home and away fans can abuse each other under controlled conditions without football getting in the way of their day out.
    I suppose you could remove the seats and just replace them with suitable barriers and numbers for places, eg seat J33 becames standing J33. Dont know how you would police it and how much of the match you would see if you were vertically challenged and stood behind someone like Wheater.

  17. I would support a standing area which could easily be restricted to a limited number of season card holders.
    C’mon Boro!

  18. Just to elaborate on what I was saying earlier. The David Conn article is interesting in that the debate is now moving on from “standing is inherently dangerous, so outlaw it”.
    This should allow a more pragmatic debate on the pros and cons of whether or not standing at sports venues is desirable or not.
    Some fans see pros in terms of atmosphere, match experience and perhaps lower cost etc.
    BUT police now see cons primarily in “crowd control”. Is this a good reflection of how they view fans? Doesn’t this sound a bit “Big Brother”-ish? Does the crowd really need to be tightly controlled by placing everyone into a unique seat or can’t policing and stewarding be done in a less visible way and take account of the fact that a person might move around a little bit.
    So, not only might standing make for a more enjoyable atmosphere, it might also mean that supporters feel less like they’re treated like children or animals that need controlling?
    **AV writes: I think the change in position you note is key and it offers some room for manouever.
    If the broader safety issue is defused then it comes down to local crowd control issues on the ground. I think if change is to come it will be because a club or several clubs see a possible advantage in safe standing as part of their marketing or pricing startegy and decide to break ranks and give it a try.
    It may be a fairly small club with a docile crowd try an experiment with a very small area to start with and maybe get a small lift in crowds, maybe a noticeably better atmosphere and maybe good feeback from police and supporters.
    We’ll see. It is good that they are having a mature debate on it.

  19. Why does everyone assume that standing would be cheaper than a seat?
    If there is a movement for bringing back standing why not charge for the privilege.
    It may have been cheaper to stand in the past but that goes back to when grounds were primarily all standing with just a small area of seating around the directors boxes – basically a class division between the ordinary fan with little money and the more affluent.
    The focus then was in increasing revenue by charging more people more by increasing the ratio of seats to standing.
    But if you change an all-seater to a 90%seater 10% standing ground you are providing additional freedoms to those who wish to stand. Thus you can make them pay the same or even more for such privileges ( and thus help fund the ground changes) effectively reversing the previous scenario of moving from all standing to more seating.
    Personally the great advantage of standing for me was the extra warmth. We play in the depths of winter and you can huddle together and jiggle about to keep warm when you are standing but you can’t when you are sat down.

  20. AV 2 quick questions for you….
    Mido has all gone quiet. What is the current situation? He isn’t 100% a Boro player, he is but on sand castle leave, he is working very hard to prove his fitness slipped yet again when not playing so he is trying to lose the weight, again?
    The story in todays paper talks about Bates heading off to the US to see his specialist.
    Do the Boro medical staff go on these trips as well to learn from the doc so that they can take the fitness programs etc back with them?
    ie the strength work done on Bates and Williams (different injury and doctor) is this then re-incorporated back into the youth/senior training schedules so everyone benefits and the paid for treatment goes further than just recovering one player and goes to prevention for all?
    **AV writes: Mido is on loan to Zamalek and his contract run sout in the summer. We won’t be seeing him again.
    When players see medical specialists it is usually only after a very detailed exchange of notes and full discussion by all parties about exactly what treament or procedures are intended.
    In some cases the player who has been treated may bring a suggested rehab programme back with him for the club’s medical and fitness staff but it would be too specific to be applied generally.

  21. Health and Safety means it will never happen,(or the repercussions if someone were to be injured), but the real reason is control.
    Football is the only sport where crowd disturbance is a major problem and seating makes it easier for stewarding and the police.
    Unfortunately the majority have to suffer for the minority.
    I watch Rugby League in standing areas where the fans are even allowed to have alcohol in their hands, including bottles (shock horror)without any incidents.
    Football fans are and will be judged on past transgressions.
    It’s a non starter I’m afraid.

  22. There were many contributing factors to to Hillsborough – not least that, contrary to the FA’s own regulations, the ground at the time did not possess a safety certificate.
    Not only should a semi-final not have been played there, but no football should have been played there without said certificate. The authority responsible for ensuring a certificate was in place? The FA..
    It is not enough that the law is changed to allow seating, the Premier leagues own regulations insist on all-seater stadia. That’s not one but two obdurate organisations that have to be defeated.
    I believe that Man Utd’s fans at away grounds allocation has been steadily decreased at various grounds due to their fans persistant standing. Stoke being a recent example.
    Persistant Standing is the key phrase in the relevant law. However it has never been defined nor challenged in court. It is a catch all that allows the Police to maintain the Order part of Law and Order.
    This is most easily demonstrated at the recent Millwall away match. The Millwall fans angry mob were clearly standing persistantly but it was only when they started throwing bottles onto the pitch that the Police became fully involved.
    They are willing to see the Law trespassed up until such time that Order was threatened, then they step in. (There are sensible operational reasons for this, the Police will always be outnumbered by the fans and they don’t have the capacity to arrest or detain everyone so have to manage the situation as best as possible with the resources they have.)
    That however is the best way to seek to have the law changed: put pressure on the Police by showing them failing to uphold the law and present the evidence that the law is unworkable and unenforcable.

  23. “Throny” problems are not the only kind of “vice” to be encountered in Scunthorpe, but perhaps that is for another Blog?
    Hello boys, from the a sunny far north west coast of Scotland.

  24. Loved the Gareth Bale artwork/animation.
    “Football, played by artists, watched by
    **** artists” – discuss in no more than 4,000 words. (Clive Hurren, 2nd paragraph at 11.13pm yesterday refers).

  25. CroydonBoro –
    The stewarding also creates problems because it is so patchy.
    Last season at Reading they were trying to make Boro fans sit down whilst ten yards away Reading fans were stood. Eventually, after Boro fans kept having words some stewards were despatched to get Reading fans to sit down. You can imagine the success they had.
    At Peterborough I was in the end seat on the front row of the uppper level. I was sat next to a lad and his grandad. The lad was about 13 and couldnt see much so stood up and totally blocked my view of half the pitch. The steward allowed him to stand and kept making me sit down.

  26. **AV writes: “No-one has ever demanded a return to those days (although to say they are is the kneejerk response of opponents). The starting point of the campaign is giving clubs the opportunity to introduce modern, well designed designated safe standing areas where they think it is viable and there is demand. ”
    I agree, of course, but reference is always made to the good old days at Ayresome Park. Most of the time it was 30-50% full on match days. If you were standing in the Holgate the atmospere might have seemed rocking, but it certainly wouldn’t travel to the East Stand. Very seldom do I recall an atmosphere which can compete with the early Riverside years.
    My first memories of Ayresome is in the Boys End, going to the toilet then realising most of the ground could see me.
    Anyway, we all know that standing areas already unofficially exist in all seater stadia, expecially at Old Trafford.

  27. Smogonthetyne now on the moon (at 6’5″, you’re already half way there!):
    And the poor little 5’8″ midget behind you spends the match looking at the “9 Smog” on your back?
    That’s one reason for fixed-tiered seating arrangements, quite apart from standing section overcrowding issues.
    Controlling the number of people admitted into a standing-only section of the Riverside by number-limiting means would require significant architectural change and modification to avoid unauthorised ingress by pitch-side migrant supporters during matches, as well as relocating turnstiles or having secondary turnstiles controlling initial entrants to those sections as the current system does.
    Much as I used to enjoy standing at matches, I think on balance, the advantages of all-seater outweigh the disadvantages. But, as Smog points out, as on planes designed for mostly average sized people, there will always be the outliers for whom the installed configuration will present disadvantage. But that, I’m afraid doesn’t constitute a case for wholesale reversion.
    In principle, if both seated and standing can be accommodated, and the required conditions for safety and crowd control which were presumably itemised in the Taylor Report can be achieved by other satisfactory means, I’d be for it – if it gives paying customers what they want. As long as the facility wasn’t abusable. I say abusable, rather than abused, because regrettably, it’s abuse of facilities and freedoms, by some people, that lead to authorities deciding to tighten control.
    A serious concern I would have about the case being developed however, if I’ve read the David Conn article correctly, is that the case for standing-only sections would appear to be based on some fans considering they’re paying too much and that somehow, being allowed to stand would confer some rights to reduced ticket prices in those sections?
    Does that imply that they’d back a case for cramming more into that fixed volume than it’s presently designed for? – a principle that cuts right through the original motivation for all-seater, fixed capacity stadia. The corollary of that is they’d be advocating a reduction in income for their club, as well as the capital expenditure to alter the architecture of the stadium to accommodate it in the first place. And I can’t see already financially hard-pressed club authorities being too enamoured at that particular prospect.
    Fixed capacity stadia are designed around a fixed volume per seat, translated to a human density “X”. Seating is also designed to restrict (potentially dangerous) movement in, or of, crowds. The likes of Heysel, Hillsborough and Ibrox in football and at the Haj in Mecca are a few examples where crowd density and movement have got out of control.
    Regrettably, unless you design out to a very low level of probability such circumstances as give rise to such events, there will be abuse – just as in every other walk of life – by those who will not consider or who will ignore the potential dangers.
    So it’s not clear to me how a reversion to standing sections might be achieved and still satisfy the conditions that Taylor will have identified in his report and which led to all seater stadia.
    And just to correct a perception that may be floating about that “crowd control” refers only to removal of miscreants by police – that is NOT the case. It’s only a very very small part of it. Crowd control means avoidance of ANY situation in which there is threat of personal injury (or worse), or damage to property, arising from the actions of either individuals, or of a number of individuals, collectively, whether that is brought about by deliberate action or by the inadvertent creation of conditions, such as local overcrowding or mass movement, which may lead to such adverse situations.

  28. Simple solution:
    Prem Rule 1346/756438 amendment 45789- 2011
    All seater stadia remain, however fans are allowed to stand 30-45 min first half,
    75-90 second half. How about that?

  29. Richard –
    You are correct that control isnt just to stop malcontents.
    It is to ensure people can get out in an emergency, the fences at Hillsbrough proved a problem once there were too many fans in the stand, there was just nowhere for the extra people to go.
    The one way for a standing area to work is strictly comtrolled access basically having a ‘standing’ place allocated but how you could police movement? Looks very difficult.
    Being in the centre of the Holgate End seemed like the pareto principle with 80% of the fans in 20% of the space. As someone else said, it was mighty warm in the middle when all the rest were enjoying the wide open spaces in Baltic conditions.
    Modern regulations wouldnt allow that, we are not even allowed to cheer and applaud so I cant see us being allowed movement.
    You cannot put the genie back in the bottle so we will have to put up with seating, as I approach 60 I can cope with that.

  30. CroydonBoro –
    Cant wait to spread fear and consternation amongst the Rams fans. Just when they thought they were clear of the struggle.
    To be fair he is a good keeper until he starts getting twitchy then he just seems to make poor decision after poor decision.
    Going to Liverpool has not been the dream move he hoped for.

  31. Six foot five and one eighth. That’s me. I have only been measured once in my life (since fully grown) and that was in the home dressing room at Fortress Riverside, on a tour after a Sunday lunch. So it must be accurate.
    No-one is saying go back to all standing, but just one part of the ground. If you want to sit, be it with friends family or sciatica or vertically challenged, then sit. But Boro fans can stand at Burton ( don’t mention the flares) but can’t at a league game?
    Safe standing. Not mass open terraces. Safe standing.
    I’m off to the cultural wilderness of the East Midlands for a long weekend. Of course I’ll pop in and see my one time man servant and confident Boydy. I’ll also call in in the Corporal, and see how his dream if playing in front of the kop is going. Any messages?
    Oh dear, cold drinks have been taken. Which reminds me have we a date for the beano?
    PS. Do yourselves a favour and get the new Strokes album.

  32. From the BBC….
    Derby County have offered season ticket holders a money-back guarantee if they are upset about the club’s transfer activity during the close season.
    Chief executive Tom Glick has vowed to give disgruntled Rams fans refunds on their tickets at any point before the new campaign gets underway in August.
    Glick told BBC Radio Derby: “If you are not happy with the side we put together, you can get your money back.

  33. Did anyone see that, stung by their relegation by Boro – presumably, Pigbag have re-formed after 28 years and are gigging again!

  34. Reading through the posts it seems the main reason for people wanting a return to standing is that they’ve become too big to fit in their seats.
    But if standing was introduced to the Riverside then the larger fan would take up a disproportionate amount of space – therefore I suggest that MFC charge entrance on a rate per kilo (say 15 cents).
    Of course volume would be a fairer measurement but it could prove a little time consuming at the turnstile calculating it as total immersion in liquid might prove unpopular – whereas a simple weighbridge would cater for the per kilo plan.

  35. It’s nice that families can now go to the match and sit down and eat their burgers without the bad language and racism you used to get, but it’s killed the atmosphere.
    I miss having a few pints in Linthorpe, the walk to Ayresome Park, standing in the Holgate, stamping my feet, clapping my hands, shouting ‘come on Boro’ Until i was hoarse, the half time Bovril, the singing, the banter and being able to smoke!
    Those were the days!
    Bring back standing.

  36. You only have to look to Germany to see that safe standing is possible in modern grounds.
    But it will only come back to England if clubs think they can make more money with it.
    **AV writes: I think that is right. I also think that with a bit of imagination in how they pitch it that clubs like Boro can do that and give the ground a bit of a spark. The key is introducing it in a way that attracts new fans in, rather than just moving existing fans from other, more expensive parts of the ground.

  37. Would it be possible to allow anybody wanting to stand to buy a seat in the two front tiers of seating. They could then stand behind the perimeter wall and the people sitting in tiers three onward would be able to see over their heads. The club would not lose any money and the TV cameras would not show a mass of empty seats.

  38. All I want to say is look at Dortmund in Germany. Behind the goal it holds 20,000 standing and it is steep. They have standing for away fans in the corner as well. They are all tickets and you have a place with number and yellow line were you stand.
    Great atmosphere just like good old days at Boro. Please bring standing back before you kill the game for ever.

  39. We sare at Burton with the recent flare incident and at the riverside when man city fans tried to get on the pitch a few years ago what problem letting fans stand can do.
    it would make it tougher for the club to keep teh fans under control, easier for fans to invade the pitch,over power stewards and through stuff at other fans or players.
    the game has moved on and we dont want to risk goign back in time pre families

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