08/06/2018 09:00 BST | Updated 08/06/2018 09:11 BST

Labour Backs Safe Standing At Football Stadiums

The move will pile pressure on Sports Minister Tracey Crouch to follow suit.

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Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Kha holds a Labour 4 Safe Standing t-shirt, at Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers ground, in West London as Labour has come out in favour of safe-standing in the Premier League and Championship, increasing the pressure on the government to follow suit.

The Labour Party is to back a new policy of allowing safe standing at football matches as fans’ calls for change intensify. 

Shadow Sports Minister, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, says the decision whether or not to introduce rail seating - which unlocks individual seats - should be devolved to clubs, fans and safety authorities. 

The 1989 Football Spectators Act required all clubs to ensure fans were seated after the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 people in a catastrophic crush at the FA Cup semi-final. 

But Allin-Khan says fans, in consultation with safety authorities, should get a greater say in how their club is run in a move which puts pressure on Sports Minister Tracey Crouch to follow suit.  

Labour says the number of designated safe standing spaces would be capped at 7,500 per stadium, which is in line with what the English Football League have proposed.

Crouch was accused of “declaring war on fans” by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) after the Government said there were no plans to change the all-seater policy at stadiums when rejecting West Brom’s plans for rail seating. 

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is among the top sports figures known to back safe standing. 

The policy does not apply to lower league clubs, such as League One and League Two, where safe standing is common. 

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Celtic, a Scottish club, has a new safe standing area for over 2000 fans

Labour says it has consulted with clubs, supporters’ clubs and trusts, safety authorities, and leagues to undertake a review of opinions around Safe Standing in football. 

Allin-Khan has also met with Hillsborough families to discuss the move. 

Announcing the policy at Loftus Road, the home of Premier League club Queens Park Rangers, Allin-Khan will say: We want to give the power to fans, clubs and local safety authorities, to allow for a small area inside a stadium to be designated for Safe Standing. Clubs, fans and local authorities know their stadium far better than anybody in Whitehall - the decision should rest with them.

“This is about safety, the current system isn’t working, people are standing in unsafe seated areas, and accidents can happen. We would allow the installation of specialised rail seating where appropriate, or standing in current seated areas where it can be made safe to do so. 

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Ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is among those who back safe standing 

“The data and extent of the surveys provided by the EFL and fans groups clearly shows that fans want Safe Standing introduced. Government Ministers have dragged their feet. They have not met with safety authorities in the last two months, they haven’t spoken to any supporters groups, and launched a review overnight without giving it any thought. 

“Labour’s decision is the result of in-depth consultation with football clubs, fans and safety authorities. It’s time for change, it’s time to back safe standing.”

Owen Riches, who set up a petition which got more than 100,000 signatures, will also be at the launch. He has written to Tracey Crouch. 

Last month, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said fans’ safety was the government’s main priority. 

A statement added: “We have no plans to change the all-seater policy but we will continue to monitor the issue of spectator accommodation and the use of safe standing where it is permitted.”