Why Terracing Should Be Permitted In The Premier League.

Of course, the original reasoning behind the banning of terracing is a strong one. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989, in which 96 people lost their lives, was thought to be as a direct result of the fact that the Liverpool fans were standing on a large, massively overcrowded, under policed terrace. Now without forgetting this terrible accident, I believe that the terrace should be due a resurgence.

At this time of great financial difficulty, and at a time when fans are consistently blaming high ticket prices for not being able to go to games, why not look at the terrace as a viable option to increase the clubs revenue while pushing down ticket prices? Clubs may argue that they would have to close off these areas of the stadium on European nights, as terracing is still banned in both the Champions League and the Europa League, but this is no longer the case; Borussia Dortmund still keep their gigantic south stand (capacity 25,000; the largest all-standing stand in Europe) and are still able to use this stand due to a piece of innovative technology. They, along with many other Bundesliga teams, have installed terracing with seats that can be folded out. Hamburg have taken things one step further at their state-of-the-art Volksparkstadion, where the terrace steps rotate 180 degrees to become seats when needed. When asked whether there were any accidents/incidents as a result as terracing, Volker Fuerderer, the safety officer at Schalke 04, replied that ‘in the 6 years that the VELTINS-Arena has existed, there has not been a single incident of injury that was caused by having terraces’. Dortmund replied simply that they did not even keep statistics as it has never been an issue.

Safe-standing at Hamburg

Safe-standing at Hamburg

A recent FSF mission to Germany found that women and children along with men actively choose to be in designated standing areas, and are able to generate incredible support for their team for a fraction of the ridiculous prices that English fans are expected to pay for their seats. Adult standing tickets are usually priced around 7 pounds, with children getting in for about 4 pounds. Standing has always been a key component in German football culture, especially with the young, and it is difficult to argue with the fact that only 9% of those who attend football matches in the UK are under the age of 23. The bringing back of terracing could massively boost falling attendances and attract a younger and potentially, more diverse (which is the argument presented by those for all-seater stadiums) crowds.

The current issue with all-seater grounds is that the majority of fans in areas of certain stadia simply ignore the rules and stand anyway, a practice that is infinitely more dangerous, as if there is an incident or panic, it could cause a domino effect, particularly in the steeper tiered grounds.  It can also cause friction between those standing fans and those who want to sit, and with stewards attempting to police this, tempers can flare.

Fortunately, the tide does seem to be turning. In 2011, the Scottish Premier League announced that they would be giving permission for their member clubs to build safe-standing areas. Villa, the only top division club to back the scheme, announced that they would be looking to install safe-standing areas in time for the 13-14 season and 50 MPs announced that they would be willing to back the idea. Even Lord Taylor, in charge of the Hillsborough enquiry, admitted that the events on 15th April 1989 were not as a direct result of terracing.

From my own personal experience at Griffin Park, home to Brentford F.C. , I can positively say that standing does seem to be the way forward, and with good policing and innovative design, like in Germany, it can be the newest and most attractive way to watch football.

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