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 -
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.
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