It remains to be seen whether Arsenal introduce ‘Safe Standing’ at Emirates Stadium but, as promised, following a feasibility study, they have now begun a fan consultation process.
This morning a seven-question survey was sent to ‘match-attending supporters’ (presumably season ticket holders and other regulars) to garner opinions on the practicalities of introducing areas specially designated for those who want to stand.
While the club is well aware of a groundswell of support for ‘Safe Standing’, which has been trialled at four other Premier League clubs since January, they clearly want to know what people will sacrifice to allow either themselves or others to do it.
For illustrative purposes (not an actual question), if you have a season ticket in the lower tier and don’t want to stand, but do support others doing it, would you be happy being relocated to another area of the stadium and, moreover, would you be open to paying extra because your new seat is in a more premium upper-tier area?
Prior to answering the questions, the club have outlined how they potentially see ‘Safe Standing’ working and go out of their way to clarify that it won’t increase the capacity nor will it see prices reduce. Quite the opposite.
Here’s what the introduction to the survey says:
- Every fan standing would be allocated a designated space with a normal foldable seat behind and a safety rail installed in front, thus giving fans the option to stand and watch the game, or sit at intervals.
- A Safe Standing place would occupy the same footprint as a traditional seat.
- Owing to the steep gradient of the upper tier, any Safe Standing locations at Emirates Stadium would be located in the lower tier only.
- As capacity will not be positively impacted by introducing Safe Standing, it is unlikely that Safe Standing areas will be priced any cheaper (or more expensively) than they are currently
- If Safe Standing is introduced at Emirates Stadium, the Club is likely to be required to enforce sitting in all other areas of the stadium that are not designated as safe standing.
- Persistent standing in areas where supporters expect to sit is problematic. It is felt that giving fans the option of designated standing areas will stop this issue from occurring, reducing tensions between supporters. It also means supporters sitting will be expected not to stand.
- If Safe Standing is implemented for home supporters at Emirates Stadium, it will also be necessary to offer Safe Standing for away supporters too.
- The wheelchair platforms at Emirates Stadium are positioned in such a way that they will be unaffected by any safe standing section in front of them. However, we appreciate that ambulant disability seating in front of the wheelchair platforms will be impacted and those affected would be re-located to suitable seating.
- The introduction of Safe Standing would likely mean that we need to introduce segregation within the stadium bowl, separating designated safe standing areas and seated areas. This would result in a net loss of seats and a reduction in overall capacity.
Some have perceived the tone of the email to be purposefully negative about the introduction of ‘Safe Standing’. In our opinion, it’s an attempt to arm everyone with all the facts so that nobody is taken by surprise if and when practical measures are taken to make it a reality.
Last month, an interim report into safe standing said it had “a positive impact on spectator safety” and improved the matchday experience.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston called the findings “very encouraging for fans, clubs and safety groups” although he went on to add, that he will “reserve final judgement on a wider rollout until the process is completed”.