The joint FSF-SD Supporters Summit took place on Saturday 22nd June 2013 at St George's Park, the FA's football centre. One of the workshops looked at the issue of safe standing. FSF campaign coordinator Peter Daykin explains more...
We were pleased to welcome a really high quality panel for the Safe Standing workshop - Paul Faulkner (Aston Villa Chief Executive), Bob Symns (Peterborough United Chief Executive) and rail seating expert Jon Darch (Safe Standing Roadshow).
A measure of the importance attached to the issue of standing was evident from the fact Paul had chosen the Supporters Summit workshop over his wedding anniversary on a close season Saturday! The session also benefitted from the presence of Football League policy wonk, Peter Hannon, as well as fans from all levels of the pyramid.
With such a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm on the standing, the format was self-selecting. I chaired the panel and opened with a review of last season's activity on the campaign before Bob and Paul presented a summary of the issue as they see it: why it's an issue for their clubs and the latest developments from a Premier and Football League perspective.
The workshop then invited questions from the floor and, for the next 45 minutes, the panel discussed a diverse array of issues.
These ranged from the debunking of common myths (are safe standing areas more costly to install and run than seated areas?) to strategic issues about the campaign (where exactly are the blockages to safe standing and can the FSF publish a roadmap to achieving it?) to club-specific issues and questions (if York City develops a new stadium that includes standing areas, will they have to refund the £2m funding they received from the Football Foundation?).
As ever Jon's encyclopaedic knowledge of the technical issues was invaluable throughout and the debate bumped along with a mixture of passion, insight and levity.
In terms of outcomes, the workshop was invaluable in highlighting new ways to involve supporters in demonstrating the mass appeal of standing at the top levels of football in England and Wales, and, as ever, the more the FSF engages and works with football clubs, the better both parties understand each other's motivations and the more effective the partnership.
2013-14 will be a key year in the campaign for Safe Standing and judging by the workshop at the 2013 Supporters Summit, the campaign is in great shape.
- Read more about the FSF's Safe Standing Campaign: www.fsf.org.uk/safestanding