The following link will lead you to a Dropbox containing a case study into the Safe Standing area provided at Celtic Park.
This is not an endorsement of the following provision of service within football stadiums, but observations of the area and the discussions surrounding the implementation of the area. This is the personal opinion of the person writing this blog and has no association with the implementation of the products or providers.
Safe Standing – are we in favour?
Lets get this one out of the way straight away. Yes, we are in favour of this style of product. We accept that in the United Kingdom this is a new service and all seated stadium at top flight clubs is now the requirement. We understand were the need for all seated stadiums has come from and the horrific past that British football has come through. But, we also understand there has never been a more prolonged period of focus on the safety of fans. This has now reached a tipping point between the safety services and the fans; were the fans are pushing back and no longer want wrapped in cotton wool.
Within the United Kingdom we would say we have a more educated fan base in what is now safe and unsafe. No fan in this country wants to see a repeat of history and we believe that they would not allow this to happen again. How often do we see reports in the paper were fans voice contempt at delayed entry to stadiums, were ingress and egress routes become congested. The fan base in the United Kingdom expect a level of service to match the prices they pay to attend a match.
Does the system work?
We have watched the system being used on match days and we would say yes. Celtic to their credit have looked at the management of the area and put in a suitable stewarding operation to assist the fans use the system the way it should be. The biggest advantage though is the buy in from the fans. They want to see it succeed and will not let it being abused; they self police the area.
Is it safer?
Again, based on observation, we think it is. It is becoming more common for pockets of fans to stand through out the match. We are not going to go into the reasons as to why they do this, but they want to stand. By trying to force them to sit, it creates unnecessary friction between the safety teams and fans in those areas. A system has been provided that allows standing to occur were you can not have crowd surging and the management of the area by the safety team prevents overcrowding.
What is the next step?
Do we believe that stadiums should return to the days of standing, NO we don’t. Is there a potential for stadium to provide areas with the safe standing system, YES we think there is. But this has to be in an area that is suitable and can be managed.
Football is moving forward and the fans are speaking. Social media allows fans to share their thoughts at a speed and frequency that a small point can become a trend and seem a lot larger than it actually is. There is a want by a percentage of football fans to stand these days, if we fight against this there is a possibility this will lead to conflict; verbal and physical and this is not something anyone wants.
26th October 2016