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ALL clubs in the top two tiers of English football can apply to operate licensed safe standing areas next season, the government has said.
Cardiff, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham took part in a safe standing pilot in the second half of last season and Brentford, QPR and Wolves will now join those clubs in offering designated areas for home and away fans from the start of the 2022-23 season.
The government also confirmed that Wembley would also offer limited safe standing for fans from both sets of clubs at domestic matches later in the season, whilst other clubs are expected to apply as the season progresses.
The FA will trial safety rails at England’s Nations League match against Germany in September, but at that stage spectators must remain seated.
Once the trials are completed, and should approval be given by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), 892 seats in the lowest tier behind each goal – 1,784 seats in total – will be in designated safe standing areas.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston had said in May he was “minded” to offer the option to all Premier League and Championship clubs on the back of interim findings from independent research on the pilot.
The pilot marked the end of a blanket ban on standing in the top two tiers of English football which had been in place for more than 25 years, with those clubs having been required to provide all-seated accommodation since August 1994 in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, where 97 Liverpool fans lost their lives.
It is understood Liverpool are not considering introducing safe standing for next season, but may extend or increase their existing rail seating provision having run a separate club pilot last season.
Huddleston told the PA news agency: “We’re confident now that we can roll out safe standing.
“We’ve engaged with lots of stakeholders, including importantly with Hillsborough families, because it’s really important that we do take everybody’s views and opinions on board.
“Fans want it, we can do it safely, and I think it’s a good day for football.”
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