Sport

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Disaster families slam standing bid

Published 11/12/2012 | 15:49

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Margaret Aspinall admits standing should not be allowed after the Hillsborough disaster

The families of the Hillsborough victims have condemned a campaign to try to reintroduce standing at football matches.

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Margaret Aspinall is chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and her son James, 18, was among the 96 people who died at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989.

She believes standing should be unthinkable despite the growing campaign spearheaded by the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) for safe standing. Aspinall, who notes there were several issues behind the Hillsborough tragedy, said: "There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed."

She added: "There were 96 dead at Hillsborough and it could have been a lot more. Standing should never, ever come back. I do not think there is anything safe about standing. I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now."

The FSF's Safe Standing Campaign is supported by Aston Villa, Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Derby, Doncaster, Hull, Peterborough, Watford, AFC Wimbledon, the Scottish Premier League, the Safe Standing Roadshow and Stand Up Sit Down.

It aims to persuade the Government, football authorities and clubs to accept the case for introducing, on a trial basis, limited sections for standing at selected grounds in the stadiums of Premier League and Championship football clubs.

So far 52 MPs have backed an early day motion (EDM) tabled by Roger Godsiff, the MP for Birmingham Hall Green, on October 15 2012. It calls for the introduction of a pilot of new standing technology - called rail seats - at football grounds.

Rail seats, which are widely used in Germany, are robust metal seats with a high back including a sturdy rail that fans can hold. The seats can fold up flush and be locked between the uprights creating wider clearways than along rows of normal seats. Aston Villa and Peterborough have already agreed to a small scale trial of the technology.

This is a safer option than what is currently happening at football grounds where swathes of fans choose to stand during matches, campaigners argue. It could be a safer way to help manage crowds when spectators do not listen to calls by ground staff and stewards to sit down, they claim.

Football clubs, safety experts, police officers, academics and football supporters visited Westminster on Tuesday to meet MPs and ask them to support a small-scale trial of safe standing areas in the Premier League and Championship.

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