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John Leech launches safe-standing appeal

Lib-Dem's John Leech reiterates support for Safe Standing areas in football stadiums

  • The Liberal Democrat's only Manchester councillor, John Leech, had announced his support for the Safe Standing campaign 
  • Mr Leech has long argued in favour of railed seating at football matches: "It is an idea whose time has come"
  • Premier League clubs have agreed to hold further talks on safe standing after top bosses met in London yesterday
  • Standing has been banned in English football's top two divisions since 1989 when 96 people died in the Hillsborough Disaster.

"Safe standing is an idea whose time has come" says campaigner as Premier League clubs agree to hold further talks

Plans to introduce safe standing have inched forward as top clubs have agreed to hold further discussions over safe standing. Safe standing campaigner John Leech welcomed the news, commented that "it is an idea whose time has come."

John Leech, elected in the 2016 Manchester local elections with 53% in Didsbury West, has long campaigned in favour of safe standing with the introduction of rail seating. His plans, released in 2014, claim they would dramatically improve safety at football matches, as well as help cut ticket prices.

Mr Leech, a Manchester City season ticket holder of 34 years, argued that England should follow the lead of Germany, Austria and Sweden that already operate safe standing: "The current system simply doesn’t work, fans who attend matches still continue to stand, but do so unsafely

"The solution is to introduce railed safe standing at football grounds which will make it safer for spectators, and which recognises and accommodates those fans who already, and will continue in the future to stand, while watching football.”

Martin Griffiths (chairman of Bristol Sport), John Leech, John Darch (Safe Standing campaigner)
Martin Griffiths (chairman of Bristol Sport), John Leech, John Darch (Safe Standing campaigner)

A survey by national fans group The Football Supporters Federation found 92% of fans were in favour of the introduction.

Mr Leech continued: "Safe standing offers supporters more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets.  

"I'm disappointed further progress hasn't been made today, but I am pleased to hear that it hasn't been ruled out and it will continue to be investigated."

Standing has been banned in English football's top two divisions since 1989 when 96 people died in the Hillsborough Disaster.

A Premier League spokesman said: "Premier League clubs today held initial discussions on safe standing. Given that fan safety is of paramount concern clubs are understandably cautious and there was no overall consensus on the matter.

Mr Leech also brought up the issue of the substantial raise in ticket prices, adding: “Modern football is also expensive to watch, and numerous studies shows that prices are only going to increase.

"We should be sure to improve safety with rail seating, but also maintain that fans are not priced out.

Safe standing is the way to tackle this

Football Supporters' Federation campaign co-ordinator Peter Daykin said: "Fans have been asking for this to be looked at for many years now and it’s great to see clubs are willing to discuss it." 

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