Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the issue of Safe-Standing to be debated in Parliament.
Having reached the number required Ministers will now look to debate the issue in the House of Commons.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch sparked anger amongst fans after she rejected West Bromwich Albion’s application to install 3600 railed seats at the Hawthorns.
The Midlands club had offered to run a pilot scheme in the Smethwick End for both home and away fans and made a formal application in October 2017 to install the section this summer in readiness for the 2018/19 campaign.
However, the idea was ruled out with Crouch insisting there are no plans to change the all-seater policy at football stadia in England.
Standing areas are currently banned in England’s top two tiers (Premier League and Championship) but Safe-Standing is currently in use in Scotland at Celtic Football Club whilst League One side Shrewsbury Town are set to install an area of railed seats next month which will see English football’s first dedicated Safe-Standing area.
Following the petition reaching the required target, Tracey Crouch said in a statement: “Over a million people watch football every week and I am grateful for the engagement of fans from across the country in expressing their views on this issue.
“This will now give me the opportunity to discuss at length the nuances and complexities of sports ground safety in Parliament, if and when the Petitions Committee agree to it being debated.”
Jon Darch, who has been campaigning for the introduction of Safe-Standing said of the news: “It’s fantastic to have hit one hundred thousand signatures. This time a fortnight ago the petition had under 5,000 signatures, so to add 95,000 in just 14 days demonstrates that fans who support safe standing are not, as the sports minister claimed, just a “vocal minority”.
“On many days over the last two weeks it was the fastest-growing petition out of over 1,800 on the government website.
“I hope that having now seen the extent of football fans’ passion about our particular issue, the government will similarly do us the courtesy of granting a full-length debate in the main chamber.”
Ministers will get the opportunity to find out more about Safe-Standing on May 1st at the Football Supporters All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in the Palace of Westminster at 6pm.
Ronnie Hawthorn, Head of Operations, Safety and Security at Celtic, will discuss the club’s reasons for installing 3,000 rail seats in summer 2016 and the success of the area over the last two seasons.
But despite widespread support, the Premier League issued a statement calling for more research into the subject.
“This subject is complex and nuanced and clearly requires more research,” the statement read.
“The results so far suggest a majority of fans like the idea of standing areas in principle but only 5% want to stand for an entire match. Additionally, the majority want the option of being able to stand and sit.
“Taking this into account, we understand and appreciate why the Minister for Sport would require far more evidence before considering a change to the current all-seater policy.”
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