Man United have put in a request to install safe standing at Old Trafford.
In the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster clubs in England’s top two tiers are not permitted to have standings areas at their stadiums.
United want to install 1,500 rail seats in the north east quadrant of Old Trafford among the home fans and have requested a trial period to the local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to see how it works.
“A formal proposal was made to the local Safety Advisory Group in December 2019 to request a trial in a small section of the stadium. Our belief is that the introduction of rail seating will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing. The SAG committee is reviewing the request. This is not an automatic approval process. We will discuss the proposal in detail with the relevant authorities and will work through their compliance and review processes.”
Depending on how quickly the SAG (which consists of local authorities, police and the fire brigade) respond, Man United may get the go-ahead to test out the system before the end of the 2019-20 season.
With a rail seating system used in European league such as the Bundesliga, several tests have taken place in recent seasons to see if the system will be safe and viable at Premier League grounds.
Two PL stadiums (Tottenham and Wolves) already have the rails fitted in front of seats as they are ready for their possible arrival. Celtic installed a safe standing area back in 2016 and Premier League clubs are said to be keen to explore small areas of their all-seater stadiums having safe-standing areas.
With the expansion of stadiums proving extremely expensive, if rail seating passes safety tests and is allowed to become commonplace in the Premier League then clubs could lower the price of tickets and each stadium will be able to to increase their capacity by a few thousand.
Clubs will be keeping a close eye on this request from Man United.