Aston Villa Back Trialing Safe Standing Areas

October 30, 2012

English Premier League side Aston Villa have become the first club in the top-flight to back a new campaign for trials of standing areas for fans in Premier League and Championship matches.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), with backing from Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff, hope to show that there is no need for all high-level football to be played at all-seater venues.

Villa have joined Peterborough in giving their support for calls to the Government to allow ‘small-scale trials of safe standing areas’ and have directly offered to host a trial.

Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “We have had a number of good discussions and meetings with the FSF over the past 12 months and fully support their campaign to allow small-scale trials of safe standing areas at grounds.

“Whenever we have discussed the topic with our fans we’ve found almost unanimous support for such a trial, and the concept of giving fans the choice to decide to either sit or stand at a game.

“We believe Villa Park could be a potential venue for such a trial, and would like the opportunity to progress the plans further with the wider support of the football community in this country.”

Godsiff has submitted an early day motion to Parliament as the trials would need a change in the Football Spectators Act 1989, brought in after the Hillsborough disaster.

Peter Daykin, Safe Standing Coordinator at the FSF, said: “Standing was outlawed on grounds of safety, and yet successive governments have agreed that standing is safe – it’s hard not to when it is done perfectly safely every week at rugby grounds, lower league football grounds and in top football leagues all around the world.”

Michael Cunnah, former Aston Villa CEO told iSportconnect that Villa may be endorsing this plan to seek further ways to bring back the vans to Villa Park.

“As AVFC’s attendances have been on a consistent slide in recent years, I can only think that AVFC are trying to create something that they think will appeal to some of their missing fans. I don’t believe that, in these Hillsborough-conscious times, the English football authorities will agree  to a proposal which no longer requires clubs to have all-seater stadia,” he said.