Reading Football Club have given their backing to a Football League investigation into the introduction of safe standing.
The Royals gave a ‘yes’ vote on all counts after the Football League contacted clubs to ascertain views across their three divisions.
The League received an overwhelming ‘yes’ from clubs.
The investigation will of course take a considerable amount of time, so no changes are likely in the near future, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Part of the investigation will include rail seating as used overseas, whereby the seats can be flipped down between games depending on whether the match is designated as a seated or a standing fixture. They cannot be changed during games. These seats were on display outside Madejski Stadium as part of the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Roadshow.
A Reading FC spokesman said, “This is just the beginning of the process, but in the first instance credit must go to the Football League for picking up the mantle on behalf of the clubs.
“We are fully behind the League and FSF in the process, and it goes without saying that the first consideration must be crowd safety. The phrase ‘safe standing’ is often used off the cuff, and the key is for there to be evidence that it truly is safe and viable in a UK stadium.
“If the process is successful and the evidence is clear, this could be a step forward for the club and our fans. There is a long way to go so everybody here remains patient but hopeful, because as much as possible we are here to give our fans the experience they want. Obviously safe standing is part of that.
“At this stage it’s too early for us to consider the location of any standing here at Madejski Stadium. There are many factors involved – safety, cost, number of turnstiles, size of concourse, financial viability and much more – that will all be looked at if and when the consultation is successful.”
Football Supporters’ Federation National Council member and Royals supporter Jon Keen said, “I’m delighted that Reading Football Club, like so many other Football League Clubs, has voted to support the concept of safe standing.
“While I think everyone appreciates that a lot would need to happen before we ever see safe standing areas at Madejski Stadium, this support will hasten the day that Loyal Royals who prefer to stand can do so.
“It’s great that Reading have responded to the clear demand amongst supporters for safe standing areas – including demand from supporters who may themselves prefer to sit but know that many fellow supporters do prefer to watch football standing up.”
The four questions from the Football League were:
1. Should The Football League approach the Minister for Sport to request that the ‘all-seater’ stadia requirements for Championship clubs be reviewed with a view to the re-introduction of standing accommodation?
2. Should the Football League approach the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to request that rail seating products be licenced in Football League grounds?
3. Should clubs be permitted to accommodate supporters standing in rail seating in the Championship?
4. Should clubs be permitted to revert from seating to standing accommodation in League 1 and League 2 following relegation from the Championship?
In a statement, the Football League said, ‘We will now engage with the relevant authorities and stakeholder organisations regarding these matters. This will be followed by further discussions with clubs.
League Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey said, “The consultation has given us a better understanding of the wide range of views held by clubs on this issue and we will take our cue from the prevailing opinion.
“We recognise that this is both a complicated and sensitive matter that will need significant debate. Therefore, no-one should assume that it will lead to overnight change.”