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West Bromwich Albion confirm interest in safe-standing pilot

Fri 23rd Jun 2017 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

West Bromwich Albion have told the Premier League they are willing to act as a pilot scheme for safe standing.

The Premier League has written to its 20 clubs asking if they would be interested in taking part in a trial to reintroduce standing sections in their grounds.

And Albion’s Director of Operations Mark Miles, who has led the Club’s study of the prospects of safe-standing becoming a feature at The Hawthorns, says he has responded in the affirmative.

“I have written back to the Premier League and told them our position remains that we would be very keen to be involved in a pilot,” said Miles.

“It is the same message I have delivered verbally at previous meetings.”

The issue has been a regular topic of debate and query at Albion Assembly meetings where Miles has indicated that the home and away sections at the Smethwick End would be the most likely site were the Baggies to go ahead with a pilot.

But he has also made it clear that before any scheme can be considered, the case has to be made for legislative change on the grounds of safety.

Before Baggies fans keen to see the return of a standing section get too excited, it is thought that the government remains opposed to the idea and many senior police officers are unsure about the safety implications.

A Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: "The government currently has no plans to change its position and introduce standing accommodation at grounds covered by the all-seater requirement."

Clubs in England's top two divisions have been legally required to have all-seater grounds since the measure was recommended by the 1990 Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster.

Miles visited Celtic’s Parkhead, where a 2,600 safe-standing section is now a feature, at the end of last year to see for himself how the system worked.

He added: “As I have made clear from the outset, this is something football will not be able to introduce without a change of legislation - and that can’t happen unless it is proven to provide a safer option for fans to watch games.

“But as my visit to Celtic demonstrated, there is little doubt that it was clearly welcomed by the supporters as well as creating a unique atmosphere.”

Posted by: Kev Howland 

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