Safe Standing - URGENT!
Liberal Democrat MP for Bath Don Foster currently has a back-bench Private Member's Bill before the House of Commons which if passed would permit (but NOT require) clubs in the Premier League and Football League Championship to have licensed safe standing areas if they wished. Good on you mate. At last an MP who listens. The Liberal Democrats are of course the junior party in the current Government coalition with the Tories. They therefore have more 'pull' with Government than they have for decades. Foster also guided a motion through the Liberal Democrat annual party conference in 2008 in support of safe standing areas.
Foster organised a round table discussion earlier this week involving the Football Licensing Authority, Football Association, Football League, Premier League, the Football Supporters' Federation and other safety experts. Amongst those attending were Liverpool supporters Anne Eyre, a Hillsborough survivor and an advocate of safe standing. She wrote the foreword to the FSF's report 'The case for safe standing at major football stadia in England & Wales -- A 21st century solution' which you can find here:
The excellent David Conn of The Guardian newspaper has a good blog on the piece today which you can find here:
href='http://tinyurl.com/6yajgkk'> DAVID CONN PIECE
You'll see from the piece that the FSF has launched an on-line petition on the issue. You can find this here:
The FA and Premier League say that there's no demand for standing amongst supporters. I beg to differ. Tens of thousands of fans at all-seated grounds vote on this issue with their feet every week, literally. By standing up to watch the game. Unfortunately amongst them are fans who would much rather sit, either due to disability or simple preference (like me). If we were to introduce properly designed and managed safe standing areas then supporters could make an adult choice for themselves.
The experience in Germany where standing is permitted at domestic games is that supporters choose to sit or stand as they prefer by buying tickets in the appropriate part of the ground. The idea is spreading
rapidly. New or redeveloped stadia in Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and the USA have or are opening with safe standing areas. Amongst them is Dick's Sporting Goods Park, home of the current reigning champions of Major League Soccer in the USA & Canada, the Colorado Rapids. The owner of the Rapids is one Stan Kroenke, also the largest shareholder at Arsenal. The Rapids' ground (if you're wondering, the name refers to a major sporting goods chain over there which has the stadium naming rights) has the first ever purpose-designed 'supporters' terrace' standing area.
UEFA and FIFA haven't got with the programme yet but even they're bound to see sense eventually. Meanwhile you've got a chance to have a real influence on this issue. Sign the FSF on-line petition AND take the time to write a letter (rather than an email, it shows you really do care about an issue if you write by snail-mail and invest in a stamp) to:
1) Barry Kilby
2) The Football League:
Greg Clarke Esq
Edward VII Quay
Preston PR2 2YF
3) The Football Association
Alex Horne Esq
The Football Association
PO Box 1966
London SW19 9EQ
Lastly if you live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland you need to write to your MP to ask them to support Don Foster MP's Private Member's Bill on safe standing when it comes back to the House of Commons for a second reading in June.
You can find your MP's name and contact details by typing your home postcode into the following website:
Presto, their name and contact details will appear. Do take the time to do this. We need to disabuse the football authorities that this isn't an issue that supporters care about. They've long since stopped banging on about safety. They know they've long since lost that argument.
Make sure you pass this on this message to all your football mates. We want plenty of work for the Post Office over the next few weeks! Loads of signatures on the FSF petition will help too. Former US President Harry Truman once asked his wife, 'Bess, why is it that only sons of bitches know how to lick a stamp?' We all need to get busy writing letters on this and spreading the word.
Steven Powell - Arsenal fan