A short time ago, West Bromwich Albion confirmed that a proposal to introduce safe standing and ‘rail seats’ at The Hawthorns ahead of next season had been rejected by the Government.
The club had offered to run a pilot scheme, available to both home and away fans, in the Smethwick End and submitted their formal application for that back in October 2017.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) April 9, 2018
Today, Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, ruled out such a pilot scheme stating that there were currently no plans to change the existing all seater policy at football grounds around the country.
Speaking to wba.co.uk as the decision came in, Director of Operations Mark Miles expressed his ‘surprise’ and ‘disappointment’ at the decision and he confirmed he had written back to the Sports Grounds Safety Authority urging them to conduct a review given the context of our application.
‘It will certainly be disappointing for many, many supporters I have spoken to who were in favour of what we were proposing. It has also been a regular topic of discussion at our Albion Assembly meetings where the members support has been clear.’
Miles explained that rather than seeking to introduce additional standing at the ground, the proposal was to manage standing that was already taking place in the stand so it was based squarely around safety.
‘I think the Minister has taken a short-sighted view and is preventing the club from creating a safer environment for supporters. The all-seater policy was developed over 25 years ago and football is a very different place now. I have become convinced that rail-seating would enhance safety. The Club is extremely disappointed with this decision and we have written back requesting a review.’
It’s not just West Brom fans who have been left disappointed by the decision, fans from all walks have been leaving their thoughts – and it’s fair to say some I simply cannot repeat.
Saddening. Would really help atmosphere at stadiums
— Dan (@danileoeduardo) April 9, 2018
It’s sad that the government is blocking safe standing it honestly ruins atmosphere go on the continent and especially Germany and look at the atmosphere of all the clubs there or in South America it enhances games makes them more unpredictable and makes the experience better
— Olly hugghes (@ojhuggy) April 9, 2018
surely it's time to look at it, rather than just saying no. Grounds these days can't be compared with grounds in the 90's
— Dominic Toye (@djcrtoye) April 9, 2018
Why reject it when it is proven that safe standing works in other countries such as Germany?
— Daniel Jenks (@DanielJenks89) April 9, 2018
The government wants more evidence to show that 'safe-standing' is… safe. In order to do that, and provide evidence, clubs would need to break the law. They are not interested in the Celtic nor German models.
— Albion Roar BHAFC (@albionroar) April 9, 2018
How many of the ‘decision makers’ actually regularly attend football matches to fully understand the situation and help to make an informed decision? Not many I imagine. Shortsighted decision beyond belief!
— Ed Connaughton (@EdConnaughton) April 9, 2018
So it seems the government would rather have "unsafe" standing (standing in seated areas – which happens in every ground)!
— Richard Menzies (@EddieMenzies) April 9, 2018
Think the government need to look at this is completely different for a start people are not caged in and there are rails stopping people from pushing forward! Let’s be honest how many people sit when they at a away game! Think we need to be adult about this and look into it
— Andrew Mabbs (@andymabbs) April 9, 2018