Rail seating licensed in League One and Two

Safe standing Banner Photo K Block Bantams

The prospect of safe standing being introduced to top-flight English football has moved a step closer after the government body responsible for ground safety granted a request from the Football League to permit rail seating in 21 grounds that are not subject to all-seater requirements.

This means League One and League Two clubs can install rail seats if they wish - the English Football League says "the symbolic value of this decision should not be overlooked."

Writing to EFL clubs at the end of last week, chief executive of the EFL Shaun Harvey said: "The symbolic value of this decision should not be overlooked as I believe it demonstrates an encouraging direction of travel that will hopefully lead to further progress on our other aims in the period ahead.

"It is also recognition that the representations we are making about EFL Clubs wanting to offer fans a modern and safe supporter experience in seats and on terraces is increasingly being heard and understood.

"Our objective remains to secure the opportunity for any of our Clubs to have standing accommodation at their stadium and we will continue to lobby on this basis."

FSF safe standing campaign co-ordinator Peter Daykin welcomed the announcement.

"This represents more progress in the campaign to reintroduce standing at top-flight football and as such is extremely welcome," Peter said. "Along with standing at Scottish Premier League matches through the Celtic rail seating trial, this is another thing supporters can do this year that we couldn't last. 

"However it still means rail seating is only available to clubs in Leagues One and Two where standing is already allowed and whilst the SGSA describe it as "dual purpose", at present they are not licensing it as seated accommodation.

"In practical terms this news won't herald any meaningful change. It is highly unlikely clubs at this level will install new rail seating areas just for standing or upgrade existing safe terraces to a technology that is more expensive but offers no clear benefit.

"Overall we’re pleased the SGSA have opened the door for new, dual purpose technologies in this way and we look forward to the debate continuing now that English Premier League clubs have mandated the league to look into the issue of standing.

"We hope the outcome, after proper consultation, will be that they join their EFL colleagues in pushing the British Government for a change in the law so clubs and supporters can begin to experience more choice in how we all watch football - whether that's from seats, dual purpose technologies like rail seating or existing safe terraces."

Thanks to K Block Bantams for the image used in this story.