When Robin van Persie’s freekick curled into Joe Hart’s goal, courtesy of a Samir Nasri deflection, to seal a huge win for Man Utd, their players ran over to celebrate with the fans, only for, once again, the match to be overshadowed, this time by a 2p coin. This ‘projectile’, thrown by a Man City fan, hit Rio Ferdinand in the face, and drew blood. Coupled with the City fan who ran onto the pitch, the match only served as a reminder of the ongoing hooliganism that is so prevalent in football. However it is not protective netting that has been the topic of discussion amongst clubs and football federations, but the possibility of a return to standing sections in stadiums. Something that was outlawed by the Taylor Report in 1994 following the horror show at Hillsborough where 96 Liverpool fans were killed, of course, time and technology have moved on since then.
We can rule out protective netting being implemented on a large scale. Simply put, it’s impractical and obscures your view, and of course this whole incident was caused by a 2p coin being thrown, how dense would the netting have to be to stop that? It is used elsewhere, but it’s use is to stop large objects like flares, something that’s much less of problem in the UK. There’s also opposition to a return to the terraces. The Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group is firmly against this campaign from the FSF (Football Supporters’ Federation) and said: “There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed.” All-seater stadiums have been beneficial. They have increased the diversity of football fans, with more women and children in the stands. They also make it easier to monitor and control the crowd through CCTV and stewards.
Personally, I feel the positives of standing sections far outweigh the drawbacks. In fact most teams have large sections of suporters that stand up anyway, take The Kop for example, you’ll never see anyone siting down there. Look at Germany, their system is one of the best in the world, with large sections of standing areas like the South Stand at Borussia Dortmund, violence is irregular, and the atmosphere, incredible. For football fans the main benefit is cost, with standing areas, the capacity is increased and so, the ticket prices are reduced. In the German Bundesliga the average attendance is on average 10,000 more, tickets behind the goal of German Champions Dortmund are £15, a bargain when you compare it to the cheapest adult Arsenal ticket at £25.50.
The proposed new system by the FSF is ‘rail seats’ similar to those used in Germany, they include a fold down seat that can be locked in an upright position to allow 2 rows of fans in between the safety barriers, whilst also allowing them to be locked down for all seater competitions like the Champions League. 13 clubs have already supported the campaign, the only Premier League club being Aston Villa, the FSF say that: “What we are calling for is a number of small-scale trials at Premier League clubs up and down the country. Then experts, safety officers and the police can see how it works in a modern context.” times have changed since 1994, the question is whether the campaign can gain enough support. If they do, we could see standing areas return. It makes sense for fans, an incredible atmosphere for a cheaper price, and for those that want to sit, seating areas will still be in the majority. Will football federation’s think the same? I don’t think so. For now at least, we might not be seeing terraces in top flight matches. But if your desperate for standing areas there’s always your local Non-League side, at a fraction of the cost of the big name sides.
Written by Anash Croker