Hands up if you want to stand up at football matches
It's back in the news again, standing at football matches. The Prem league are set to oppose a return to designated terracing. Obviously we can't be trusted to stand without seats and the stewards and police can't be trusted to manage the same amount of people that would be present if they were instructed to sit down. They do realise that if something (God forbid) happened - we'd all still need to stand up to leave in an orderly fashion? I can't help but think that the reasons given for not entertaining the potential for standing areas at modern stadia is one born out of laziness. It's all safe and comfortable and easy as it is so why complicate things by risking any potential for trouble when that potential is practically no different to anything that might or might not happen at a football match.
Considering how tight the ticketing system is when purchasing and entering the ground and more so the amount of stewarding, police and CCTV that exists during the ninety minutes that gets played out - the system is already in place to guarantee the safety of fans who wish to stand rather than sit. Fact is, it happens at games anyway. Park Lane lower at Spurs a perfect example. Stewards forever trying to get people to sit down. Threats that the council will close parts of the ground if we don't. Happens elsewhere too. Let's be honest, the clubs go through the motions of asking people to sit and already some (arguably) turn a blind eye at some altogether. Whilst others display a zero-policy to it, removing fans if they persistently refuse to remain seated. It's all very unnecessary and over-policed.
Stop patronising us, we're not hooligans and this is not the 1980s and whether its standing room with seats or a fully fledged no-seat area - it's going to be safe by virtue of the amount of people that are allowed access to it. The very fact stadia are better designed and are far safer environments is not because there is no terracing - it's because of everything else (the aforementioned infrastructure concerning entry to the ground and the fact you can not get away with being stupid/racist/thuggish thanks to said CCTV and the vigilance of other fans).
I'm sure some of the reasoning against it relates to such matters as smoking or drinking or if there is an idiot in amongst the standing fans - it's far easier to imagine gaining access to said person if it was a seated area. In a crowd, you can 'escape'. Not far to be honest, you still have to attempt to leave the ground. And people who cause trouble do so now in seated grounds so that's hardly going to be influenced with a throwback to how we once upon a time enjoyed a game of football.
How about rather than dismissing it for no apparent reason - the Prem send a delegation to Germany and see how they manage to include standing areas at their grounds without any issues at all to safety. Or trial it. Or at the very least speak to fan associations and clubs and gauge opinion. We're the ones spending our money on the game. Ironically, making us consumers - which is where the problem exists.
Football has changed in so many ways. You're not immersed as much as you once was because you're not allowed to be. It's almost frowned upon in some grounds to swear or show intense emotion. It's even got to the point where some fans ask you to keep the noise down as they turn around to face you from the seat in the next row (it's happened to me a couple of times). We'd had to sacrifice a lot because of mistakes made by others and because of a changing society and football itself morphing into a far more accessible pastime (compared to the 80s) for families to attend. The whole footballing landscape in terms of the evolution of the fan and the experience explosion into the mainstream has changed massively in the past 10-20 years. Shame that the more working class elements (whether you are working class or not) are no longer truly respected.
So, to the Prem League - we're not asking for much. So stop pretending we are and try to meet us half way.
For more information and to sign the petition, visit the Football Supporters' Federation.
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