Is standing coming back to the Premier League?

19 January 2012 by

The Guardian today reports that Aston Villa is exploring the possibilities of bringing back terraces to Villa Park. The club recently met with the Football Supporters’ Federation, long time proponents of reintroducing standing places, and are now examining the possibilities of such move.

Standing places were banned from British stadiums following the Hillsborough disaster and subsequent Taylor Report, though a clear link between standing and the disaster has never been proved. Whereas most European countries have followed Britain in banning terraces, German teams have kept the possibility for their fans to watch the game standing. With increased safety and crowd control measures, and the option to convert them into seats for international matches.

FIFA recently took another stand against standing places, vetoing them for the proposed new Zürich stadium, however nothing stands in the way of the FA allowing them again. The Scottish FA recently set an example in starting a dialogue with the clubs about a possible reintroduction.

Arguments in favour of standing places are that they are a cost-effective way to increase capacity, that they lead to a better atmosphere – the fan’s argument – , and that they provide increased accessibility to tickets due to lower prices.

German clubs on average sell their standing places 60% cheaper than a seat, which means, extrapolating to England, that a standing place for a Premier League match could cost about £17.00 for the cheapest category match, and £24.00 for the most expensive category.  In the specific case of Aston Villa this would mean £12.00 tickets for the cheapest category.

Photo: Standing places at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne.

German stadiums typically reserve 10 to 20% of their capacity for standing places, Dortmund‘s 25,000 terrace being the most notorious example. Apart from a home terrace behind one of the goals, many German stadiums also divide the away section into seating and standing places.

A decision to allow standing places is likely not one to be taken quickly, especially considering the sensitivities surrounding Hillsborough, but one likely to be received with nostalgia by many football fans.