Safe standing petition reaches 100,000 signatures leading to possible House of Commons debate

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2018 by

Safe standing petition reaches 100,000 signatures leading to possible House of Commons debate
Celtic have introduced a safe standing area at Celtic Park

A debate on Safe Standing at Premier League and Championship stadiums could be held in the House of Commons after a petition to have the matter discussed reached 100,000.

That is the figure at which Parliament would consider the idea for a debate, with support for the petition having gathered pace in the last two weeks.

On a number of days over the last fortnight it was the fastest-growing petition out of over 1,800 on the government website.

Celtic have successfully introduced a safe standing area in recent years, while Sky Bet League One side Shrewsbury Town have recently been given permission to add 'rail seats' to their stadium.

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch recently rejected a proposal from Premier League side West Brom to introduce a safe standing at The Hawthorns, however, with the Minister claiming the change was only wanted by a 'vocal minority'.

But given the volume of interest the safe standing petition has raised, the Minister has now promised to approach the matter again if a debate does takes place in the House of Commons.

"Over a million people watch football every week and I am grateful for the engagement of fans from across the country in expressing their views on this issue," Crouch said in a statement.

"This will now give me the opportunity to discuss at length the nuances and complexities of sports ground safety in Parliament, if and when the Petitions Committee agree to it being debated."

No English top-flight or second-tier team currently has safe standing within their stadium but advocates for change are delighted that Parliament could debate the matter in the future.

"It's fantastic to have hit 100k! This time a fortnight ago the petition had under 5,000 signatures, so to add 95,000 in just 14 days demonstrates that fans who support safe standing are not, as the sports minister claimed, just a 'vocal minority'," said Jon Darch, who runs the Safe Standing Roadshow which promotes the introduction of rail seats.

"I hope that having now seen the extent of football fans' passion about our particular issue, the government will similarly do us the courtesy of granting a full-length debate in the main chamber.

"Safe standing is important to thousands and thousands of fans, as this petition shows, and deserves to be formally debated in Parliament."

Campaigners hope MPs will take the opportunity to become better informed about rail seating by attending the Football Supporters All Party Parliamentary Group meeting in the Palace of Westminster at 6pm on Tuesday.

The main speaker will be Ronnie Hawthorn, Head of Operations, Safety and Security at Celtic, who will be talking about their reasons for installing 3,000 rail seats in summer 2016 and the success of the area over the last two seasons.


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