Safe standing gets Wanderers' vote

The Bolton News: Dougie Freedman said he would be open to the idea of safe standing at football grounds Dougie Freedman said he would be open to the idea of safe standing at football grounds

WANDERERS have produced a favourable response to calls for the reintroduction of safe standing areas at grounds in the Championship.

The Football League polled their 72 member clubs at a meeting on Thursday night, finding that the vast majority are in favour of challenging the current regulations on all-seater stadia, implemented after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

It is understood Wanderers were one of the clubs who voted in favour of the proposed changes.

The Reebok Stadium was created as an all-seater venue in 1997 but the club has long-since been open to the idea of safe standing, which would see retractable seating installed in selected parts of the ground.

Wanderers welcomed the Football Supporters’ Federation – the body that has championed safe standing for several years – at a recent meeting of their Home Matchday Experience and Attendance Working Group.

The Football League will now put their members’ views to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, although no changes are expected to be made for the foreseeable future.

"It's a very significant development in the campaign for standing areas in football,” said the FSF’s safe standing co-ordinator Peter Daykin.

"We're approaching 25 years since the Hillsborough disaster and both football and policing technology is a completely different ball game now."

However, the move has met with opposition in some quarters.

Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group believes the reintroduction of standing at football matches would still be a risk.

“We have listened carefully to the arguments but, as far as the Hillsborough Family Support Group is concerned, we had a vote on this and it was a unanimous vote that there is no such thing as safe standing,” she said.

“I do not understand why people want to go backwards after so many steps forward.”

Speaking at his weekly press conference yesterday, Dougie Freedman said he would be “open to the idea” of safe standing being reintroduced at grounds.

“I would be willing to sit down and look at what they had planned,” he said. “But I would only fully back the idea if I could be guaranteed that safe standing was exactly that.

“There have been too many tragedies going down the years to jeopardise safety just because people might think this is a good idea.”

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