Here at the FSF we were interested to read Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe’s comments yesterday in response to Denis Murphy MP’s question on the issue of safe standing, a campaign we have been running for some time.
This is an issue which affects all football supporters, not just those who wish to stand, a point often lost in the debate. The safe standing campaign isn’t just there for those who wish to stand, it’s also there to lobby for those who wish to sit, those with disabilities who cannot stand, or parents with small children. How many times have you been at a match only for an argument to break out as a fan’s view is spoiled because they can’t see over the person in front who refuses to sit? Fans should be given choice.
And it’s not just the FSF or our friends at Stand Up Sit Down who think safe standing is the way forward. Last year’s comprehensive report by the Independent Football Commission (IFC) also backed the FSF’s stance. The report suggested that less police would be needed at matches with safe standing and even found it likely that health and safety figures would improve.
The IFC’s report isn’t alone in backing safe standing either. Almost 100 MP’s have now signed up via an Early Day Motion while the Liberal Democrats will be discussing at their annual conference whether to make it party policy, all very encouraging. We believe this is a battle we can win.
Sutcliffe may feel ‘there is consensus among all parties that there is no wish to re-introduce safe standing at grounds in the top two divisions’ but we think he may have forgotten one fairly important group…the fans themselves.
In a survey we carried out last week, in conjunction with The People, thousands of football fans and FSF members gave their views on a whole range of topics. One of which was safe standing. And guess what? 82 per cent favour safe standing. Is there another industry which would ignore so many of its customers and receive Government backing at the same time? We certainly can’t think of any.