FOOTBALL FANS SUPPORT SAFE STANDING

September 15, 2008 9:18 AM
Ron Beadle addressing the Lib Dem 2008 autumn conference in Bournemouth

Newcastle North campaigner Ron Beadle tells the Lib Dem conference that football fans in Newcastle support safe standing areas

A survey of football fans in Newcastle has shown overwhelming support for the reintroduction of safe standing areas at football grounds.

Newcastle Liberal Democrats carried out the poll in advance of their national conference debate on the issue.

At the annual conference in Bournemouth delegates overwhelmingly backed a call to allow safe standing areas to be reintroduced at football stadiums in England.

They denied safety concerns, arguing that nobody was suggesting a return to the terraces of old and that European examples had shown that "safe standing" areas could be a success.

Delegates voted to back a policy which calls on the Government to "replace any regulations requiring spectators to be seated with new regulations clearly setting out standards under which safe standing can be licensed".

It says illegal standing causes conflict between supporters, clubs and authorities, and that grounds with both seating and standing areas see very little trouble.

The Newcastle survey was carried out in pubs showing the England Croatia match on Wednesday and outside St James' Park on Saturday. Over 200 fans participated.

Overall 65 % of those surveyed agreed with the move but this figure rose to 75% of those who attend matches.

Among those who don't go to games 54% backed the move with 46% opposed.

Senior Newcastle Liberal Democrat campaigner Ron Beadle said: "While the people we spoke to do not want a return to the old large scale terraces they do want smaller standing areas in grounds.

"As experience in Germany has shown these can be safe and restore some of the atmosphere that Premier League grounds have lost."

All football grounds in the top two tiers of English football have been required to provide all-seater accommodation since 1994, following the recommendations of the Taylor report.

That followed the death of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989 during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

But some European grounds, notably in Germany, have successfully brought in safe standing areas which can be converted to seating for Uefa matches.