The term safe standing describes a modern design option which allows spectators to safely stand whilst watching a sporting event – usually a football match. This type of spectating is described as “safe” because each fan has their own specific ticketed spot and individual rows are separated by barriers to prevent falling.
Safe standing areas have been used for some time in Germany, most notably at the Borussia Dortmund Signal Iduna Park or Westfalenstadion as it is also known, where avid football fans travel from far and wide to experience the ‘yellow wall’ section, where safe standing is implemented.
Celtic have also successfully introduced a 2900 capacity "safe standing section" in Scotland and a large number of football fans in England and Wales are actively campaigning for safe standing in top tier football stadiums to be introduced. The topic remains complex and highly emotive due to a number of past stadium disasters.
According to FIFA, football has its origins in England, with the establishment of the modern-day game dating back as far as 1863 when it was distinguished from other ball games such as rugby. This year marked the formation of the Football Association (FA), the first governing body which established clear rules for the game.
As football steadily grew in popularity, so did
Terraces were originally developed in response to demand, cheaper ticket prices for the terraced areas meant that the working class were able to come and watch their favourite team play. The football clubs at that time were not run by the elite, and stadiums were designed to take in as many supporters and as much money as possible. Terraces provided a highly cost-effective solution, offering a flexible space which maximised capacity. Safety
The 1902 disaster at the Ibrox Park Stadium in Glasgow, led to the death of 25 people and numerous injuries when a section of the then newly built West Tribune Stand collapsed due to heavy rainfall from the previous evening, dropping its occupants approximately 15 metres to the concrete floor beneath. After the disaster, it was decided that all terraces were to be constructed on sloped compressed earth or concrete.
In 1971, 66 people lost their lives at a crush leaving the Ibrox Park Stadium in Glasgow – a series of other disasters and the rise of hooliganism and violence associated with the 70s and 80s, which subsequently became synonymous with the terraces, meant that football stadiums were viewed by many members of society as dangerous places to be – rife with violence and hooliganism. The deplorable conditions found at stadiums were perhaps somewhat of a reflection of class attitudes at the time – a sense of anger and growing social unrest amongst the working classes in response to a number of factors including high unemployment levels in the 70s and 80s, were being channelled by some, through football associated violence and anti-social behaviour.
The Guide to Safety at Football Grounds was introduced following the 1971 Ibrox crush, although conditions at football stadiums remained unsafe and poorly maintained. The 1985 Bradford City Stadium fire claimed 56 lives – a lit cigarette butt slipped through a hole in a floorboard in one of the stands, igniting a layer of rubbish and debris which had accumulated underneath the stand without risers.
During the following years, traditional terraces were transformed into pens with
A catalogue of circumstances and events including poor policing and crowd management, inadequate stewarding, inadequate turnstiles, an old unsafe stadium, poor ticketing, rusty fences, fans being caged in with no means of escape, non-local fans unfamiliar with the layout of the stadium and a slow emergency response to the situation are all factors which contributed towards the fateful event. Following the disaster, Lord Justice Taylor was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the events, the report concluded that the main cause of the disaster was
"The picture revealed is of a general malaise or blight over the game due to a number of factors."
"The safety and comfort of those on the terraces
"This inhospitable scene tends to breed bad manners and poor behaviour. The atmosphere does not encourage pride in the ground or consideration for others."
Following recommendations from the report, the government subsequently banned all standing accommodation for fans of the top two divisions and by 1994 all top division football stadiums were all-seaters.
Many avid football fans are campaigning for safe standing – they view standing as part of the overall stadium experience and complain that the all-seater stadium lacks in spirit and
Although Premier League clubs are all-seaters, there are still a significant number of supporters who still stand, even with ticketed seats. This is not only a major inconvenience for those seated directly behind them, some of which may be physically unable to stand for long periods of time, it is also a major safety concern as these areas are not designed for safe standing. Allowing people to choose to stand safely in designated areas with their own ticketed spot, rather than unhappily merging them with those who wish to sit, is arguably the most logical solution.
Many supporters express concerns that all-seater stadiums have priced out a number of the traditional fan base. Introducing safe standing areas also brings with it the possibility of lower ticket prices.
The topic of safe standing areas remains a sensitive one, and understandably so given the events of the past;
During the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, all-seater stadiums were the safest option with the available technology of the time. Almost three decades later, stadium design and technology has evolved considerably in terms of safety and comfort, with the introduction of the
The RailSeat was developed by Ferco in response to the high demand from football fans for a return to standing sections, it has been approved by both UEFA and FIFA for use in safe standing areas. Its flexible design allows it to be easily converted into a seated area to meet UEFA standards – providing clubs with
Barrier technology is core to its design with each seat incorporated into a strong metal frame, providing a robust seat and a high back, which forms a sturdy and continuous handrail to facilitate safe standing – the high strength rail also provides a protective barrier which prevents spectators from falling or pushing those in front of them.
The design of the
Safe standing areas are ticketed areas – each spectator pays for the space of a seat, which would be securely locked away for the duration of the game in the safe standing area.
Each RailSeat model is not only robust and comfortable but purposely designed for stadium use. The Ferco RailSeat has been used