Liverpool FC fans back reintroduction of standing

Monday, July 31, 2017

Fans of Liverpool football club have backed proposals which would pave the way for the reintroduction of standing at top-flight grounds.

Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly has said its members would support the introduction of rail seating, a retractable technology which features fold-up seats within a metal frame running along each row of the terrace.

The technology would allow seats to be folded shut for Premier League games and unlocked for European matches, to comply with Uefa's laws on all-seater stadiums. The frames would form rails to divide the fans while standing, and thus prevent crushing.

Standing was banned at the highest level of English football after 96 Liverpool fans were killed at the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, when fans were crushed to death on an overcrowded terrace during the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield. Liverpool's own Kop terrace, one of the most famous standing areas in football, was demolished five years after the disaster.

The issue of standing continues to be hugely divisive among Liverpool fans. However Spirit of Shankly, which has campaigned extensively on behalf of families of the Hillsborough disaster, says 88% backed the reintroduction of safe standing.

Spirit of Shankly says 18,000 people took part in the poll, which was carried out over the course of a week.

The group's chairman, Jay McKenna, said in a statement: "It's an incredible turnout, we aren't aware of such numbers voting before.

"It demonstrates to us that we were right to have this discussion and that supporters, families and survivors want to have their say. After nine months of discussion, we have now had the vote and it will be taken as the position for Spirit Of Shankly.

"The size of the turnout majority means that no one can be in any doubt that supporters have had their say and made an informed decision."

But McKenna stressed that this result should not be "celebrated" as a "win" and his group has issued a statement to Liverpool fans explaining the need for further "mature and sensitive conversation" on the matter.

McKenna said: "The vote is significant and we know people will see this as backing of rail seating.

"However we say to anyone who is campaigning for this to understand sensitivities and respect the views of those who disagree.

"Those who have been through incredible heartache and tragedy have every right to be heard and to ask important questions about safety. It was important in our conversations to have these answered. It would be wise for that to take place elsewhere."

Rail seating is already used at a number of grounds in Germany's Bundesliga, as well as at Celtic Park in Scotland.