Bristol City Football Club Supporters Trust

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Supporters back national safe standing campaign

Bristol City Supporters Club & Trust has this week thrown its weight behind a national campaign in support of safe standing.  

The petition, launched by the Football Supporters Federation (FSF), is calling for clubs in the Championship and the Premier League to be free, if they wish, to install designated safe standing areas in their grounds based on the successful German 'rail seats' model. Trust board member Jon Darch is even organising a mobile 'roadshow' unit to tour the country showing fans, club officials and the authorities precisely what 'rail seats' are and how they represent a win-win scenario for all concerned.

Local MP paving the way
The national petition has been launched by the FSF following a meeting in Westminster hosted by Bath MP Don Foster, who has tabled a bill in parliament to have the ban on standing in the top two tiers of the game overturned. He brought together representatives from the top leagues, the police, the FSF and the safety authorities to discuss the pros and cons. While it appears that most of the past objections about safety were largely conceded as unfounded at this meeting, the politicians were quoted later as saying that there was "no demand" for standing areas. The FSF has therefore taken up this challenge and aims to demonstrate that there is, in fact, considerable demand. The online petition, now totalling over 10,000 names, is one way in which they aim to do this.

City fans want choice
As we know from our own surveys in relation to the new stadium that a majority of fans from all corners of Ashton Gate would like, if the rules allowed it, the installation of a designated area for standing fans, we are more than happy to back this campaign. Properly regulated, safe areas of standing would, we believe, enhance the matchday atmosphere for all spectators, let those who want to stand do so without feeling like criminals (as at present), let those who prefer to sit do so without the inconvenience of having standing fans blocking their view and provide opportunities in grounds that regularly sell out to increase capacity and gate receipts while simultaneously reducing the ticket price and thus making the game more socially inclusive. The sort of 'rail seats' as used for standing areas in many German grounds, and shown above, are, we believe, patently safe and would, in fact, create a much safer situation in grounds than that which currently prevails where tens of thousands of fans stand every week in the top two divisions behind low-backed seats.

Safe Standing Roadshow
While photos like the one higher up the page show pretty clearly what is being proposed, there's nothing like seeing and touching something for yourself to truly understand the concept and to understand just how robust and utterly safe these seats are. And that's why Trust board member Jon Darch has arranged with the UK partners of a German manufacturer of such seats to create a 4-seat demonstration unit to tour the country spreading the word. For full details of what he plans with the 'Safe Standing Roadshow' see the project's own dedicated website (pictured above).

Add your name
And if you too feel that fans should have a choice to watch their footy as they wish, in a seat or standing up, and that clubs should have the freedom to install, if they wish, safe standing areas along the lines described here, please also sign the online FSF petition and pass the link on to all your friends.

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Paul Cheesley
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