Independent Football Ombudsman recommends safe standing trial

Monday 1st September

The Independent Football Ombudsman has released its report for 2013/14 and in it contains their clearest message yet that designated safe standing areas are the best solution to the issue of supporters standing in seated areas. The report also expresses frustration that previous recommendations on the issue have resulted in no apparent action. The report, released in mid-August, states -

‘Previously, the IFO had recommended that the various football and government agencies seek to address the problem, without suggesting a particular remedy and notes that the three previous Annual Reports have produced no apparent action.’

It then goes on to say -

‘The IFO therefore recommends that the Football Authorities discuss with the SGSA and the DCMS the mounting of an experiment in ‘Safe Standing’. This would permit the gathering of evidence to judge whether the all-seater policy should now be reviewed and how the provision of a standing option might affect supporter behaviour.’

The full report from the IFO can be found on their website – http://www.theifo.co.uk/publications.html

Lib Dems back safe standing in election manifesto

Monday 25th August

Not just a derby win to get us in a good mood over the bank holiday weekend. In addition to that, the Liberal Democrats have announced that they’ll be backing the introduction of safe standing areas in their election manifesto.

http://www.libdems.org.uk/safe_standing_for_football_fans

The campaign also got a boost locally with Norfolk MP Norman Lamb backing the campaign in the local press.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/norfolk_mp_gives_his_support_to_safe_standing_at_football_grounds_1_3739461

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Friday 15th August

A couple of articles relating to yesterdays fan march in London for affordable ticket prices.

Firstly, an article from The Guardian giving a fascinating insight into the mentality of the German Bundesliga from the perspective of its Chief Executive, Christian Seifert, focusing on why affordable ticket prices are fundamental to their ethos of their clubs and why fans there would cause a ‘huge shitstorm’ if that was to change. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/aug/13/bundesliga-premier-league-germany-ticket-prices

Secondly, a roundup of yesterdays events in The Telegraph, as well as a focus on the number of unreported empty seats at some Premier League matches. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/11034102/Furious-football-fans-march-on-Premier-League-headquarters-in-London-to-demand-lower-ticket-prices.html

Wednesday 13th August

A few updates on various issues -

Firstly, the SAG for Glasgow City Council have refused to currently grant permission to Glasgow Celtic to install rail seating at Celtic Park. The decision has angered Celtic, given that they had addressed previous concerns and returned to the Council with an updated proposal. The bid by Celtic had the backing of their fans, as well as safety experts, and will only result in thousands of supporters standing in seated areas during matches, rather than in a designated standing area designed specifically for their needs.
The statement from Celtic regarding this can be found on Celtic’s website – http://www.celticfc.net/news/6438

Secondly, supporters from around the country will be marching on Premier League and Football League HQ tomorrow demanding affordable ticket prices for fans. The march will be led by the Football Supporter’s Federation, and in the build up to this they have generated national media attention highlighting the issue – http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/high-ticket-prices-for-premier-league-matches-could-lead-to-the-loss-of-a-generation-of-fans-9659441.html http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/aug/13/supporters-group-premier-league-ticket-prices-protest-march

Lastly, over on the continent in Spain a group called the Spanish Popular Football Clubs has written a manifesto following their meeting at the weekend, which outlines their ideals on how clubs should be owned and governed, focusing on fan ownership and clubs social responsibilities within their communities.
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Welsh Assembly pens open letter calling for safe standing

The Welsh Assembly has penned an open letter to Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, calling for trials of safe standing.

The letter follows on from developments over the summer, when the Welsh Assembly voted in July by 26 votes to 1 in favour of backing safe standing trials in football grounds. The motion which was passed proposed that the Welsh Assembly -

- Notes the overwhelming appetite amongst football supporters for the introduction of safe standing facilities;
– Calls on the Welsh Government to work closely with sport associations and regulatory authorities to promote safe standing at sports stadia in Wales;
-And calls on the UK Government to consider the introduction of a pilot of safe standing in Wales.

The letter now places further pressure on the UK government to relax the current laws preventing clubs in the top two divisions of English football from installing standing areas.

The FSF campaign for safe standing trials is already supported by both Swansea City and Cardiff City.

The letter from the Welsh Assembly, signed by members from all four parties in the Welsh Assembly, is as follows -

Dear Minister,

We write in relation to the issue of safe standing at football stadiums in the UK – an area which is governed by UK Government legislation.

The issue of ‘Safe Standing’ has attracted cross party support here in the National Assembly for Wales and has now been formally endorsed following a vote in the Senedd on the 9th of July.

As you will be only too aware, stadium safety has improved dramatically in recent decades for a number of reasons, including upgraded facilities, modern policing techniques, CCTV, all-ticket policies for major events and a decline in football related violence.

In addition, stadium technology has developed dramatically and innovations such as ‘rail seating’ have meant that football grounds throughout the continent, including in the German Bundesliga, now have dedicated safe standing areas.

It is also now widely recognised that safe standing areas enhance the atmosphere at grounds without compromising safety, could improve access to games for disabled fans, and are backed by an overwhelming 9 in 10 football supporters.

A generation ago football stadiums were very different places and the Taylor Report was produced in the context of a national tragedy. Naturally safety must remain the primary concern, but the football world has moved on and we believe that it is time to reconsider legislation which unfairly stigmatises football supporters.

We have called for a pilot of safe standing to be introduced in Wales to assess the potential for reviewing the legislation which currently governs stadium safety regulations and we would be extremely keen to hear your views on this matter.

Kind regards,

Andrew RT Davies AM – Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, South Wales Central
Ann Jones AM – Labour, Vale of Clwyd
Bethan Jenkins AM – Plaid Cymru, South Wales West
Aled Roberts AM – Liberal Democrat, North Wales

A couple of articles which have been published recently, highlighting the cost of football here in England compared to the prices paid by supporters on the continent.

The first article, written by David Conn, appeared in The Guardian and looks at the rising cost of football in England over the last two decades – http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/jul/28/premier-league-ticket-prices-football

The second article appeared on an Italian website and looks at the season ticket prices paid by supporters of teams in Serie A. Apologies that the article itself is in Italian, but the table at the bottom shows the prices paid by supporters in the curve, the traditional home ends, which are far cheaper and more affordable than those in England – http://infoazionariatopopolarecalcio.blogspot.it/2014/07/serie-i-costi-degli-abbonamenti.html