Twickenham MP Vince Cable backs safe-standing plans
Standing at football matches should be reintroduced at the highest level in England, according to Twickenham MP Vince Cable.
Last week, Football League clubs backed calls for safe-standing areas to be rolled out in the Championship, one division below the Premier League.
Dr Cable witnessed the Ibrox disaster in 1971 in Glasgow first-hand when 66 people died at a Rangers v Celtic match, after a person falling on an exit stairwell caused a fatal chain-reaction pile-up of bodies.
But the Business Secretary said stadiums and safety had come a long way since then and that he would back proposals to reintroduce standing sections at all matches.
He said: “I would certainly be in support of bringing back standing at football, but only if the proposals were found to be safe.
“I was at Ibrox myself and have seen the dangerous implications of large crowds at sports events so it would not be allowed to undermine that.
“But if it were possible, it would be good to see safe-standing introduced and it would definitely provide an improved atmosphere at top-level games.”
All-seater stadiums have been compulsory in the Premier League and Championship since 96 Liverpool fans were killed at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium in 1989.
In September 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron admitted police failed to prevent the Leppings Lane stand becoming overcrowded and found the safety of the crowds had been “compromised at every level”.
Safe-standing areas, featuring retractable rail seats, have been introduced abroad, most notably in Germany.
The Football Supporters’ Federation said the rail seating method was safer than the current situation where tens of thousands of supporters stand in seated areas at games.
Brentford’s Griffin Park ground has two standing terraces, at the Ealing Road and Brook Road ends of the ground.
If promoted to the Championship, the club would be allowed three years’ grace to convert the stands, although clubs have previously been given extensions if granted planning permission for a new all-seater stadium.
The Bees are currently investigating implementing safe-standing at their proposed new stadium at Lionel Road, near Kew Bridge.
They responded positively in favour of safe-standing proposals to the Football League’s consultation, sent out to all 72 clubs last week.
Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We recognise that this is both a complicated and sensitive matter that will need significant debate.
“Therefore, no one should assume that it will lead to overnight change.”
Margaret Aspinall, whose son died at Hillsborough, said: “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.
“I do not understand why people want to go backwards after so many steps forward.”