Manchester United has revealed that plans for a barrier seating trial at Old Trafford have been given the green light from Trafford Council as it looks to enhance its stadium’s safety and matchday experience.
The Premier League club had submitted proposals for barrier seating arrangements earlier this year following recent changes to the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide). In total around 1,500 barrier seats will be installed with the club abiding by government restrictions and social distancing rules during the construction.
Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director, Manchester United stated: “It should be stated up front that our overwhelming priority is to keep our people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. It may seem strange to talk about stadium plans at this time, but football and our fans will return when it is safe, and our preparations for that must continue in the background.
“This announcement is the latest step in what has been a long journey with our fans. We have listened to their feedback, in particular the representations made by MUST (the Manchester United Supporters Trust), and worked with Trafford Council to develop and approve this proposal.”
According to Arnold the new project will also allow the stadium to ‘future-proof’ itself in case there may be changes to England’s all-seater stadium policy. In 2011 Scotland relaxed its all-seater stadium policy with Celtic becoming the first club in the UK to complete a safe standing area in previously all-seater stadium in 2015.
The director continued: “Our belief is that the introduction of barrier seats will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing. It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy. If the trial is successful, we may consider further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium.
“We will now move on to develop the installation, compliance and licensing plan for the trial with a view to having the new seats installed for when we can welcome our supporters back to Old Trafford.”
The new plans follow Man United’s recent redevelopment of Old Trafford in order to enhance its matchday experience when fans can eventually come back into the ground. In February, the club announced the extension of its ‘atmosphere section’ in the Stretford End as part of its season ticket launch for the 2020/2021 campaign.