31/07/2017 13:00 BST

Liverpool Fans Back Safe Standing In Football Stadiums In Historic Poll

Supporters' union asked 18,000 people for their views.

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Liverpool fans have given their backing to introducing safe standing in football stadiums.

Supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly carried out a poll to gauge support among match-goers for the policy - a particularly emotive subject for the club due to the death of 96 of its fans at Hillsborough.

Nearly 18,000 people took part, with 88% of them saying they would back rail seating areas being introduced in grounds, which would allow fans who wanted to to stand.

Spirit of Shankly chair James McKenna said the week-long vote was preceded by “extensive consultation” with survivors and family members of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, who have mixed views about the concept.

“It’s an incredible turnout, we aren’t aware of such numbers voting before. It demonstrates to us that we were right to have this discussion and that supporters, families and survivors want to have their say,” he added.

“After nine months of discussion, we have now had the vote and it will be taken as the position for Spirit Of Shankly. The size of the turnout majority means that no one can be in any doubt that supporters have had their say and made an informed decision.”

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Spirit of Shankly chair James McKenna

The debate on whether standing should once again become commonplace at football matches has been ongoing for several years, with League One side Shrewsbury Town this week set to become the first club with an all-seater stadium to introduce a standing area.

Standing is currently banned at all Premier League and Championship games and its widespread reintroduction would require a change in the law.

It was stopped in 1989 in the Hillsborough aftermath, and last month the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed the government has “no plans” to change its position in the face of the growing clamour for its return.

Spirit of Shankly say while the results of their poll are clear, they will continue to take into account the views of those who disagree and assess next steps. 

McKenna added: “No-one ‘wins’ here, this has been a mature and sensitive conversation and we have arrived at a position.

“Those who have been through incredible heartache and tragedy have every right to be heard and to ask important questions about safety. It was important in our conversations to have these answered. It would be wise for that to take place elsewhere.”