Is it finally time for Safe Standing in the Premier League?
By Joe Harker
Manchester United have applied for permission to install safe standing at Old Trafford, which if approved would likely mark the return of standing sections in Premier League stadiums.
The club wants to replace some seats in the North East section of their stadium and season ticket holders have been told a trial of safe standing is likely to go ahead before the end of the season.
Their local Safety Advisory Group are still considering the request, but has the time come for Premier League fans to stand on their own two feet again?
Most polls on the subject of safe standing show huge support for the idea and a new report from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority said standing sections had a "positive impact on spectator safety, particularly in mitigating the risk of crowd collapse".
SGSA researched supporter behaviour at Celtic and Borussia Dortmund, with both clubs having safe standing in their stadiums.
They also looked at Shrewsbury Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United, clubs in England which are trialling safe standing areas.
Safe standing appears to have the thumbs up from fans, clubs and politicians as the current research indicates it helps make fans safer while also boosting the atmosphere at the ground.
Everybody appears to want safe standing back, so what's the holdup?
The Counter Claim:
First things first, it's always going to take time for changes to be made.
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch held up proceedings for a while by claiming there was no appetite among the top clubs for safe standing to be introduced, though she later became more open to the idea.
At this point there isn't much of a case against safe standing, with the slow turn of progress being the only real reason it hasn't happened yet.
United aren't the only club pushing for safe standing, with plenty of fan groups supporting the reintroduction of standing sections.
Wolves installed rail seating around the Sir Jack Heyward Stand of the Molineux Stadium, making it an area which could easily be converted into a safe standing section in the future.
The new Tottenham Hotspur stadium also has a "safe seating" section which could be converted into a standing section at a later date.
Standing sections in English football's top two divisions have been illegal since 1994 after the Taylor report responded to fan safety issues after the Hillsborough disaster.
Rail seating is the preferred method for introducing safe standing to modern stadiums, as the chair is attached to the rail behind it and fans can sit down if they like. They are actually safer than the current all seater stadiums as people
Stadiums that have rail seats in place but aren't allowed to turn them into standing sections are just waiting for the moment to get the green light on converting them into proper safe standing areas.