Oldham Athletic and Swindon Town back Safe Standing Campaign

Oldham Athletic and Swindon Town are the latest clubs to back the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign – welcome aboard to both! Their support brings the total number of English league clubs formally backing the campaign to 20. The Scottish Premier League also supports the FSF’s call for safe standing trials.

Jenny Warburton, Commercial Manager at Oldham Athletic, said: “While under current regulations we are not able to offer the choice we note with interest the growing support from fellow clubs for the FSF in its call on the Government to permit a limited number of trials of safe standing areas fitted with ‘rail seats’.

“We believe that the rail seat concept has merit and could provide football clubs that currently have all-seater stadia with a safe and well-managed means of enabling fans to watch football standing up. We would therefore encourage the relevant authorities to permit trials of the rail seat system with a view thereafter to defining appropriate criteria under which it could be introduced in future at grounds such as ours.”

Swindon Town’s support follows December’s Parliamentary showcase The Case for Safe Standing in Football which Stadium and Operations Manager Mark Isaacs attended along with MPs, journalists and other football industry figures. The event was organised by the FSF with support from Roger Godsiff MP. Representatives from Aston Villa and Peterborough United said they would be happy for their clubs to trial safe standing areas.

The Robins said: “Swindon Town is a club that prides itself on listening to its fans and when surveys such as the recent one run by fan website TheWashbag.com indicate that 87% of Town supporters would welcome the introduction of a safe standing area as part of redevelopment of the County Ground, we are naturally only too happy to have that debate and explore whether that is something that may be possible in the years ahead.”

“We believe that such [safe standing] trials would be useful for the football community as a whole in order to enable all concerned to take fully informed, evidence-based decisions on the possible wider introduction of such areas in the future. Swindon Town Football Club fully supports Villa and Peterborough in their request to be allowed to run such trials.”

In August and September 2012 TheWashbag.com surveyed Swindon Town supporters’ views on safe standing at the County Ground. 87% said that they would like provision for safe standing in any redevelopment if it was permitted. TheWashbag.com argued that it would be in the club’s interest to back the FSF’s campaign and, to the Robins’ credit, they have done just that.

Ron Smith, Editor of TheWashbag.com, said: “With such a strong display of public support we were pleased with Swindon Town's response and held a constructive meeting with Mark Isaacs. Clearly the club have listened to their supporters in making this statement in support of Aston Villa and Peterborough United being allowed to undertake the safe standing trials.

“These will provide a vital tool to further test the already strong case for safe standing areas in the Premier League and Football League. TheWashbag.com welcomes the opportunity of working with the club and supporters' groups to see safe standing become a reality at the County Ground.”

Fans of Oldham Athletic also welcomed their club’s support for safe standing trials. Dave Moore of Oldham Athletic Mad said: “I'm delighted that the club are publicly supporting the call for safe standing trials. We have plans for building a new stand so if the trials go well I hope that it can incorporate standing accommodation.”

  • Below left - Rail seats in Klagenfurt (Austria).
  • Below right - Bob Symns (chief executive, Peterborough United - middle row, centre) and representatives of Peterborough City Council with Jon Darch (Safe Standing Roadshow) and Hannover 96 staff among rail seats in the AWD Arena (Germany).