Stafe standing moves a step closer at Elland Road

13 Jul 2021 09:13 am, by YorkshireSquare

The introduction of safe standing has long been a policy of the Leeds United Supporters Trust and they continue to lead the charge to reintroduce standing, in a safe way, at Elland Road on behalf of Leeds United fans. Standing in the top two tiers of English became illegal after recommendations made following the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, with many clubs including Leeds United forces to install seating in their stadiums. The once 17,000 capacity North Stand was slashed to just 7,000 for the 1993-1994 season in order to comply with the new regulations. But an interim report published last year by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) determined barriers in a seated area "mitigated the risk of crowd collapse".

Standing is currently allowed in League One and League Two with Shrewsbury Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United trialling rail seating technology similar to that seen in Germany. Several top-flight clubs are exploring the possibility too with Tottenham and Wolves already having installed barrier seating ahead of any changes in policy. Manchester City have since announced plans to install 5,620 rail seats ahead of the 2021-22 season, while Chelsea confirmed similar plans last month for the Matthew Harding Stand and Shed End at Stamford Bridge. It now seems Leeds United can be added to that list with LUST stating plans for the implementation of rail seating at Elland Road were revealed during the recent Supporters Advisory Board meeting;

The club has not yet provided any details including information regarding which stands are included in the plans, but it is exciting news for those who would welcome the return of standing at Elland Road. When LUST canvassed its members back in 2017, 97% voted in favour of seeing the return of standing at football grounds. It also raises the prospect that rail seating and safe standing could be an integral part of the Elland Road redevelopment plans. The club recently announced plans to increase the capacity of Elland Road by 18,000 seats including substantial redevelopment of the North and West stands. Safe standing could contribute to the ‘wall of noise’ vision the Leeds United Supporters Club have set out for the redevelopment of the North Stand.

The Football Association, Premier League and Football League have all said they would support clubs choosing to implement safe standing if local authorities allow, there is a strong case for bringing in safe standing where persistent standing is currently deemed a safety risk, such as the Kop. Standing will not officially be allowed until the law is changed but the installation of rail seating at Elland Road will however mean that Leeds United are prepared should the government bring forward legislation to introduce safe standing in the Premier League. With the Sports Grounds Safety Authority’s positive interim report, it may not be long before standing is officially allowed at Elland Road again, not that it’s ever stopped most people in the Kop standing before!