Bristol City could become the first club in Britain to incorporate safe standing rail seat areas into their ground if a proposed £40m development of Ashton Gate goes ahead (rail seats take up the lower tier in the above image).
The club have launched a public consultation over plans to redevelop their ground into a multi-purpose stadium for use by Bristol City and Bristol Rugby Club. If the plans are approved and the proposed timetable met, rail seats could be installed by August 2015.
Bristol Sport, the parent company who own the football and rugby club, have set aside 3,152 rail seat spaces in the Dolman Stand and Wedlock Stand. Once completed Ashton Gate will hold 26,500 in all-seater mode and up to 29,000 with standing in rail seat areas.
However, only Bristol Rugby Club are able to offer the rail seats in standing mode as current legislation forces clubs in the top two divisions to offer all-seater stadiums.
While Bristol City currently sit in the third tier, where standing accommodation is still allowed, league rules dictate that redevelopments or new builds must offer all-seater accommodation.
The inconsistent, illogical nature of current legislation is perfectly highlighted here – the authorities are perfectly happy to allow standing in rail seated areas, so long as the ball is oval, not round– but this shouldn’t detract from Bristol City’s proposals.
The club announced their support for the FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign in October 2012 and will lobby for approval to use Ashton Gate as a safe standing trial venue for football.
The Football League recently approved a motion at its annual general meeting allowing clubs to “explore” safe standing trials.
Ashton Gate development director Guy Price said: “Since the announcement earlier this year, we have consulted widely with our supporters, many interested parties and our neighbours.
“We are now ready to present the proposals to the public and I encourage everybody to use this opportunity to give us your comments and feedback.”
The redevelopment plans for Ashton Gate run alongside another proposal to build a new ground at nearby Ashton Vale. An inquiry into those plans opens in October.