It has been an issue that has rumbled on for all of my football going lifetime. Some people like to stand to watch games but they simply are not allowed to. When I was a Season Ticket holder in the Fratton End every so often you’d hear rumours about the club clamping down on persistent standers and kicking them out. The stewards had no heart for it and would put in a cursory and half-hearted effort to tell people to sit down but it was never going to happen. However things are not the same up at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have decided that the time was right to evict people who continually stood and suspended their Season Tickets. Speaking on the Official Sunderland Website head of Safety & Security Paul Weir said:
“The figure for fans ejected due to persistent standing last season as a whole was just 20 so we can see that there has been a significant increase in the early part of this season. We certainly don’t wish to spoil the enjoyment of any supporters, we want a vibrant lively match-day atmosphere just as much as the fans do, but we also have legal obligations that we must be seen to be adhering to.
“We also have a duty of care to all of our supporters, including elderly and disabled fans who have contacted us very concerned that their enjoyment on a match-day is being compromised because people around them stand throughout the game. Naturally we want to ensure a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone at the Stadium of Light and we’d ask supporters to listen to requests from stewards and help us to eradicate persistent standing for the sake of all fans.”
This is the same guy who has publicly stated that he wants to see safe standing areas in football grounds but he’s decided enough is enough and has taken a hard line against fans. My opinion on this is unsurprisingly that the man in question is an idiot who has gone way too far. The problem seems to have stemmed from the club moving away fans to a new areas and therefore displacing the standers to various areas of the ground.
Standing isn’t for everyone. I know that and everyone knows that. However there are many who do enjoy standing and fans know in general where these people are housed. As I stated earlier I had a Season Ticket in the back on the centre of the Fratton End. I knew it was an area where people stood and I prefer to watch games standing up. It worked for me and for all those round me. These unofficial standing areas are around in most clubs. I have never felt unsafe standing in a sitting area and I doubt many other have either.
Football needs to address this issue. Safe standing areas need to be brought in. It just has to happen because if clubs are actually going to start evicting and banning them from coming into the ground because of this then things have gone too far. You can stand at sporting events and be safe and the sooner the English football authorities understand this the better for everyone