It won’t exactly be the terraces of the 1970s and 80s but Glasgow Celtic nevertheless thinks it’s time to consider the introduction of safe standing areas inside Celtic Park.
Standing areas introduced to the Bundesliga have proven “extremely safe” and incredibly popular, prompting Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell to consider their incorporation.
“Some systems that are now deployed in Germany and other countries… it’s time to give them a try,” said Lawwell.
“We feel there is a new vibrancy in football that has come from Europe and is now in the UK,” said Lawwell. “It’s an energy and youthfulness and the safest way of being able to manage that is through safe standing.”
One of the biggest considerations for Celtic in implementing safe standing is the opinion of fan group ‘The Green Brigade’, with whom the club reached an agreement in April over a number of safety issues, including “lateral movement.”
“We recognize that they bring an awful lot to the game, to the event here. But there are certain aspects of the behavior that we would deem not safe.” Such behavior includes body surfing, damaging seats and lighting pyrotechnics. Lawwell believes that setting up safe standing sections, however, would “be the ultimate solution for that.”
The idea of incorporating safe standing into Celtic Park is guaranteed to divide opinion.
On one hand, most die-hard football fans will welcome it with open arms, recognizing that standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow supporters promotes unity, song, tifo displays and an unparalleled atmosphere. Vibrant Bundesliga stadiums like Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park and Schalke 04’s Gelsenkirchen stadium are a testament to this notion.
On the other hand, however, some people will fear that by allowing supporters to stand they’ll be more likely to engage in dangerous activity and overcrowding, leading to security concerns. They’ll also note that stadiums like Celtic Park already possess tremendous atmospheres and to allow standing could come as a threat to the improved safety measures that have been put in place since the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.
The process for implementing safe standing would require the club to go to the safety committee at Glasgow City Council, who provide approval following consultations with police, ambulance, fire service and building control. Celtic will then apply for a “policy review” to allow the section to be approved.