FSOA statement re decision to reject safe-standing trial at West Bromwich Albion:
“The all-seater policy for football grounds in England and Wales was developed over 25 years ago and the landscape of football ground safety has changed beyond recognition in that time.
“The issue of supporters persistently standing in seating areas is one that affects all-seater football stadia up and down the country and threatens to compromise the safety of thousands of fans every match day.
“Something must be done to tackle this issue, and the introduction of an alternative such as ‘rail seating’ or other systems currently being developed to enhance safety should not be ignored.
“West Bromwich Albion’s bid to trial a safe-standing section in the Smethwick End was submitted after lengthy research across Europe and also at Celtic, where similar systems are already working successfully. The pilot would have provided the perfect opportunity to gather much-needed data and feedback with the view of possibly introducing similar systems at grounds across England and Wales in future.
“Safety Officers and Club Directors across the country are subject to legislative requirements but this is one legislation that should be given careful consideration. However we move forward in future, the safety of spectators must always remain paramount but it seems that as we strive to improve standards of safety already achieved at our grounds, the Government is then choosing to ignore what may prove to be a safer alternative to standing in seated areas.
“It is disappointing that the rejection of West Bromwich Albion’s bid means the club will not be able to explore this option of safe-standing to enable positive change and enhance match day safety at all grounds going forward.”