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Clarets to back standing plans
BURNLEY have given their backing to a scheme to re-introduce standing at football grounds, despite not yet being in a position to provide terraced areas themselves.
The Clarets are one of just 13 Football League clubs who have come out in support of a pilot scheme which aims to prove that standing, which was outlawed after the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, is now a safe way to watch the sport.
The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is hoping that MPs will next week vote in favour for its plans for a small-scale trial at Premier League clubs, despite their opposition to the idea.
In a statement, the Premier League said they will “not be encouraging the Government to change the law”, adding: “Since the introduction of all-seater stadia the supporter experience has improved significantly and we have seen more diverse crowds attending Premier League matches, including more women and children.
“The police, safety officers and licensing authorities remain clear and have consistently informed us that crowd management has improved as a result of all-seater stadiums being in place in the top two divisions in this country.”
But Burnley chief executive Lee Hoos, pictured left, believesa return to standing would be good for football, and clubs should be more open minded to the idea.
“It’s not something clubs can currently do unless they are in League One or below, but would we support a change in legislation, absolutely!” he said, even though Turf Moor could not currently safely cater for a designated standing area.
“It’s difficult for us to implement it now in the lower blocks around the stadium because of the corporate boxes, and the rake around the upper tiers are too steep.
“We would have to spend a bit of time and money to make the necessary changes.
“But we are in favour of the idea.
“For one thing the fans, who are the customers, are the people who are clamouring for this, so you have to look at giving them what they want.
“We try to enforce the ground regulations when it’s safe to do so, and we would discourage people from standing, but if you looked around the ground at the Blackburn Rovers game, there wouldn’t have been many people sitting down.
“The majority of the ground was standing throughout.”
All-seater stadiums have been compulsory in the Premier League since 1994, following Lord Justice Taylor's report in response to the Hillsborough disaster, but Hoos added: “The Government should be looking at this seriously in terms of ‘can it be done safely?’.
“I’m not trying to open up old wounds but in other sports people stand all the time in seated areas.
“You go to concerts, where people often have quite a lot more to drink, and they are standing in seated areas.
“There are less restrictive means of crowd control, and with the stewarding and policing and CCTV inside grounds we have come a hell of a long way.”
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