Published on September 25th, 2012 | by StandAMF
Safe Standing Against Modern Football
I’m writing this before I set off to watch my team, Sunderland, play Liverpool today. It’s the first match Liverpool have played since the Hillsborough files were released. They were quite shocking to say the least.
And though it was Liverpool fans that suffered, we all know it could have been any club in that position. I watched Sunderland beat Norwich in an F.A Cup Semi Final at Hillsborough just three years later. It could have been me.
Hillsborough had quite an impact on football today as we know it; grounds initially reduced capacity of standing areas, then all-seater stadiums were imposed on the clubs in the top two leagues in England. In order to survive and compete, some clubs realised that they would have to move from their homes and into new, purpose built all-seater stadiums.
We all have our views on the impact this has had on our game, but it’s clear that the unique character of many grounds disappeared. And with it we’ve seen what can only be described as a sanitisation of the match day experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe everything is worse now than it was say twenty plus years ago. For example, I do quite enjoy buying a pie at the match that now has meat in it, rather than gristle, and has the luxury of being heated through. I quite like the fact that the current Sunderland set up is not complete and utter shite, which it quite simply was for large chunks of the 1980s and 1990s.
However, there are a lot of things thatI don’t like about modern football. Many aspects were documented in the first issue, but there is one thing which really gets my goat.
Standing in seated areas.
We’re in a time when terraces are not allowed; that is being fought and I can forsee a time when they return. However, at the present we have to deal with all-seater stadiums.
Liverpool travel up to Sunderland as I write this with their allocation being cut by just under 1,000. Man United have also had their allocation cut, as have pretty much all clubs who are capable of selling out the away end. All because their fans stand in a seated area. Apparently this is dangerous, but I I just don’t get it.
How is it dangerous?
Surely the authorities acknowledge that when a team scores the relevant teams supporters will get out of their seats. If a bad decision is made against your team, your team goes on the attack, gets a corner, gets a penalty….The point I’m trying to make is, being stood up is part and parcel of watching a match. In a seated area it isn’t dangerous. I don’t ever recall reading about an injury being suffered by a set of supporters from standing up in a seated area (mind this doesn’t include the amount of bruised shins we’ve all got from celebrating a last minute winner in a seated area!).
Following on from Hillsborough the relevant health and safety authorities had to act. But they’ve gone too far on this issue. It needs to be challenged. The issues at Hillsborough were caused by hopeless policing, a dangerous ground, unnecessarily dangerous perimeter fencing. Those points have, in the main, been addressed, but let’s not go too far.
We have a special game we all love (or used to!), we can create a unique atmosphere in Britain, let’s not stifle that.
Let’s encourage it.
Challenging the health and safety law makers that standing in seated areas is safe, is, I believe, a step in the right direction, albeit a small one, for those that loved football before Sky.
Article by Sven Kristiansen @sven_ftm
Image by @DannyLast