The UK Government has stated that Premier League and Championship clubs wanting to introduce licensed ‘safe standing’ areas at stadiums will be allowed to do so from the 2022/23 season.
The ‘early adopter’ clubs have been revealed as Brentford, Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
These teams are set to join Cardiff City, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in offering licensed standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans.
DCMS Secretary of State, Nadine Dorries, said: “We want to make the experience of watching football as magical as the play on the pitch. Fans will now be able to cheer on their team from a seat or join others in a safe standing section to really get behind the players and roar on their heroes to victory.
“We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted. Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds.”
The stadiums have been selected following an application process, open to all grounds covered by the all-seater policy, led by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).
‘Strict conditions’ have said to have been met, including enhanced use of CCTV, improved steward training and fans being strictly limited to ‘one person, one space’. Clubs have also engaged with fans as part of their application process.
“Based upon what I have experienced and we have learnt through the pilot programme, safe standing is set to deliver an electric atmosphere at our football stadiums,” added Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston.
“Fans have long campaigned for its introduction and we have worked carefully with supporters groups, including the families affected by the tragic Hillsborough football disaster.
I am proud of the work that has gone into this rigorous process and that we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to get fans back on their feet in stadiums.
Other clubs are expected to adopt licensed standing areas during the course of the football season. Wembley Stadium will also offer a small licensed standing area for fans at forthcoming domestic matches later this season.
A final report on last season’s Government-commissioned trial at the early adopter clubs concluded that barriers or rails in areas of persistent standing in seated areas have delivered a ‘positive impact’ on spectator safety as well as having improved the match day experience.
Sports Grounds Safety Authority Chief Executive, Martyn Henderson OBE, concluded: “We welcome the controlled return of standing for the modern era, which has been made possible by a very close collaboration with the Government.
“This is an historic moment for football – and, most importantly, for the fans who have campaigned for this change and will be safer as a result of today’s decision.”