Back in the eighties I stood week in, week out on the terraces of the old South Bank in the Boleyn Ground.
Now I stand in front of my seat in Sir Trevor Brooking Lower at every game like everyone else around me, and I have done so for many years.
However, I understand in other parts of the Boleyn Ground West Ham fans are asked to sit down or face eviction from the ground. In total it is estimated that 65,000 football fans stand in front of their seats every Saturday.
The law changed after the Taylor report stated that football clubs must have a seat for each fan that is admitted. It doesn’t say the fan must sit down in that seat. However, the football league rules say fans must sit down when matches are being played and clubs can eject any fan that doesn’t comply with this rule.
This is enforced differently from football club to club, ground to ground and in some cases, like West ham, it is different from stand to stand.
I think it is time for the Government and the FA together football clubs to take another look at these rules and the law.
We all remember the tragic circumstances and travesty at Hillsborough and why seating came in via the Taylor Report after this event.
I am not calling for a return of the old terraces but saying technology has moved on and it is time football fans had the choice to stand safety.
Personally I support the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) campaign for Safe Standing.
This is what West Ham management have said about safe standing in the past.
“We actually wish we could have fans like that back in England who stand up behind the goal and sing all the way through, fantastic atmosphere really enjoyed it.” Sam Allardyce after his West ham visited Dynamo Dresden.
“I am in favour of safe standing the key is in the title ’safe’” West Ham United Chairman David Gold on Twitter
“In this world the customer has the right to choose and if some fans would prefer to stand, fair enough.” West Ham United Vice Chairman Karen Brady.
Last ‘Movember’ I had the opportunity to ask our Chairman David Gold and former FA Chief Executive Mark Palios their views on safe standing live on a Sports TV channel by Skype.
In response to my question about safe standing David Gold replied “I have recently seen a German model of safe standing, it actually is a seat but you leave the seat up and you can stand there but for other functions they can actually drop the seat down very quickly with a mechanism. It can be done and I think we should at least take a look at it and not close our eyes to the fact”
When asked whether David would install safe standing at the Olympic Stadium he replied. “If I got the Olympic Stadium, I would certainly consider it there”
Hopefully football grounds in the future can accommodate areas for safe standing as well as seated areas for others.
The 2012 Football Supporters Federation survey shows I am not alone and the strong support for the return of standing areas at football grounds, with 54.4% of the survey’s respondents saying they prefer to stand during games, and 91.1% saying fans should be given the choice to sit or stand.
When I spoke to Jon Darch, founder of the Safe Standing Roadshow he added: “It’s great that David Gold recognises the potential of rail seats. I hope he will now back the call for safe standing trials.”
Although David words were recorded before we were finally awarded the Olympic Stadium it appears safe standing forms no part of the current LLDC design for the Olympic Stadium. I do wonder what will be West ham’s stance on standing in front of seats when we move to Olympic stadium.