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Conference (2/9)



  1. www.standupsitdown.co.uk info@standupsitdown.co.uk At their home game against Manchester City yesterday, a group of Tottenham Hotspur supporters organised an extremely successful “Show the FLA the Yellow Card” protest in an area of the ground where standing and vocal support go hand in hand. The protest emphasised the right of the supporter to choose whether to sit or stand in pre-designated standing areas areas. THFC respected the protesters’ freedom of speech and enabled them to distribute and hold up the yellow cards. The Manchester City supporters’ group, Atmosphere Action Group, lent its support to the Spurs protesters. The action consisted of supporters raising yellow cards just prior to kick off and it was very well observed. Regrettably, demand for yellow cards in the South Stand outstripped supply – many other people clearly wanted to show their support for the campaign. The protest organiser, Lynn Hancock, was interviewed for BBC Radio London, which was aired on the Danny Kelly programme on the afternoon of Sunday 20th March. We would now like to arrange similar peaceful protests at clubs of all divisions across the UK but to do this we need YOUR help, both physical and financial! The season is fast drawing to a close so we need to act quickly to take full advantage of the growing interest in Stand Up Sit Down. If you would like to be involved in an unprecedented action, where club loyalties are put to one side and supporters are, for once, united in their common aims, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. · This is NOT a protest against your club. It is a protest against the Football Licensing Authority the people responsible for ensuring local authorities and clubs do all they can to ensure supporters sit, regardless of their personal preference. · We will provide you with a template of a yellow card. You will have to arrange to get this printed locally at your own expense. If supporters of neighbouring clubs are willing to arrange a protest then perhaps the cost could be shared between the two groups. Again, we will put supporters in touch with each other. · We suggest the distribution of cards is concentrated in the area of your ground where supporters tend to persistently stand – and ordinarily where your most vocal supporters are! · You will have to get enough people to distribute the cards to supporters. We will put like minded supporters of the same club in touch with each other and if we can arrange a protest so both home and away support can simultaneously hold up their yellow cards, then so much the better. · Once we have your guaranteed support, we will arrange press releases to national newspapers and provide you with a template to contact local newspapers. · We will provide you with a letter for you to send to your club to explain what you are doing and why. · Ideally, this would happen on the same day. Once we have your responses, we can arrange a date whereby the fixtures are simultaneous but not a problem is this is not practical. · In the meantime, we will carry on our work behind the scenes lobbying those with the influence to force change, but just think how great our much greater OUR influence could be, if we truly united over this issue so important to so many of us. Please contact info@standupsitdown.co.uk
  2. SO WHY CAN’T WE STAND UP? www.standupsitdown.co.uk Every week across the country fans are being ejected or even banned for simply standing up to support their team. Away allocations have been cut, parts of grounds are under threat of closure, and there is increasing conflict with stewards. Stand Up Sit Down have met with clubs, local authorities, safety officers, football authorities and the FLA, but have found very few people who really consider this a safety issue. We are now left wondering just why such efforts are being made to prevent supporters standing. Safety The FLA say that the movements that standing spectators make to follow play could lead to them falling and causing a cascade effect, injuring those in front. SUSD consider that whilst there may be some risk of falls in steep upper tiers, we simply cannot envisage such an effect in areas of relatively low gradient, which are present in virtually every ground. This is not just the view of supporters, but also some clubs, safety officers and local authorities. A senior council official, who is threatening his local club with closing part of their ground, told us that he can see no safety problems with standing in that area. At their conference last year the gentleman charged by the Core Cities Group of Local Authorities to deal with persistent standing, was shouted down by football club safety officers, angry at his ridiculous arguments. He later stated that a majority of Football Safety Officers Association members seem not to consider persistent standing as a safety issue. The FSOA National Administrator said that they are opposed to supporters being permitted to stand within football stadia during passage of play, and their policy is to support the FLA document ‘Standing in Seated Areas at Football Grounds’. He noted however that there is a difference of view within the FSOA, but that a number of Safety Officers support the policy. It appears therefore that the majority don’t. The FLA say that standing supporters take up more room so spread into aisles, but our experience is that this is rare and easily prevented. We believe that there is less risk of injury when a goal celebration is started from the standing position, a view unanimously backed by comments from numerous SUSD members, but the FLA say the opposite. The Government’s standard reply to supporters writing in support of SUSD’s proposals states that there are more injuries at grounds with standing than in all seater stadia. This is misleading as the relevant figures would be injuries from standing in seated areas compared to sitting, but the FLA say these are not available. We know of one major Premiership ground where the injury rate is the same whether supporters sit for a major fixture or stand for a lesser match. Even in grounds with terracing the average injury rate is only 1 in 20,732 and the FLA admit that 70% of these are illness or pre-existing injures. If safety really is a concern, why don’t clubs minimise the risk wherever possible? Where away allocations have been cut, why are supporters packed into a smaller section, surrounded by empty seats, rather than taking the opportunity to reduce spectator density and hence the safety ‘risk’. Lord Taylor said that standing accommodation is not intrinsically unsafe. His report did not specifically cover the issue of standing in seated areas, but said that he expected that after a period of time supporters would get used to sitting. So how well did he understand us? Every year in London alone an average of 70 passengers are seriously injured and two killed in accidents related to standing on buses. The Health & Safety Executive says that standing on trains is not a safety issue. Meanwhile the FLA are determined to stop standing in even lower tiers of football grounds. Is this objective safety assessment or convenience? It would cost billions to provide seats for all bus and train passengers, but football clubs had to pay to alter their grounds, and of course we know the Government don’t want us to stand. Inconsistencies The most dangerous place for standing is steep upper tiers, so why are away fans often allocated these, whilst the safer lower tier is empty? At QPR away supporters in the upper tier have to stand in order to see the part of the goal. SUSD suggested that the pitch is moved forward to improve sightlines, but QPR showed little interest. We wrote to Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who said they would ‘observe the safety implications of standing in the School Upper’, adding that ‘any action however will need to be balanced against what is reasonably practical to achieve, given the stand is over 25 years old.' They didn’t explain why the age of the stand is relevant to moving the pitch forward. So in some grounds supporters are being ejected from gently sloping lower tiers, which are under threat of closure. In some standing is largely ignored, but in others the club choose not to take simple action to prevent standing in more dangerous upper tiers. Does safety not demand consistency? We asked the FLA why spectators can stand at rock concerts held in football grounds. They said firstly that the action is in one place, so there is less chance of toppling over in straining to follow it, and secondly that those attending music events are a different ‘profile’ from football supporters. Do they really think rock fans stand quietly in front of their seats? If safety is paramount, why did the FLA wait until last year to take serious action? What has prompted the recent clamp down on standing? We have seen no evidence to suggest that the safety risk has changed, so is there another reason? The FLA The FLA was charged to monitor local authorities’ oversight of spectator safety at English and Welsh football grounds, and ensure through a licensing system that these grounds became all seated. In 1992 the Government decided to allow clubs in the lower two divisions to retain standing accommodation, however if a club is relegated back into a lower division, or if it builds a new ground, it cannot have standing areas. All seating by stealth? The FLA now appears to have broadened its remit, to include comfort and security of supporters as well as safety. It seems that they have to resort to using every argument against standing, no matter how weak. Is it right that a body who don’t even agree that a significant proportion of supporters want to stand should have such influence over the way we watch our game? A recent report by 'The Efficiency in Government Unit' claimed that many quangos could be merged or abolished without anyone noticing a significant difference and included the FLA, along with such bodies as the Potato Council, in a list of the most useless quangos. Do we still need the FLA? Crowd Control & Customer Care How relevant is the argument that allowing supporters to stand will lead to crowd trouble? Any disorder will almost certainly occur at a time of controversy or excitement, when supporters would be expected to be standing. A ground regulation banning standing is hardly likely to stop anyone who is sufficiently agitated as to cause trouble from getting out of their seat. Those who are unable or prefer not to stand, should not have their view blocked by others, however rather than a justification for making all supporters sit, this is a major reason for providing separate areas for everyone to watch the game as they wish. Debate There appears to be reluctance for many parties to participate in an open debate on standing. Despite devoting considerable time to SUSD, the FLA are clearly tired of what they consider are the same old arguments. Few clubs have been prepared to talk openly, and whilst several have publicly stated support for standing areas, others have told us that they support our aims but cannot allow this to be quoted. Premiership clubs discussed our letter at a meeting and decided not to reply. The Premier and Football Leagues did not want us to make public what was said when we met. One club made a public statement in support of our proposals, but then wrote to us with a far more guarded opinion. It is almost as if there is a conspiracy not to allow public debate, as this would highlight the weakness of the case against standing. Summary Stand Up Sit Down proposes the simple solution that in all seater stadia, at least one area of each ground is selected where supporters would be permitted to stand safely in front of their seats. It is clear that supporters will continue to stand, as they have since the Taylor Report, so by allocating only the most suitable areas, our proposals would actually improve safety. The deeper we dig the more it seems that a total ban on standing cannot be justified on the grounds of safety, crowd control or customer care. Lessons have been learned from Hillsborough, and major steps taken to improve our safety, but a total ban on standing is simply not necessary or indeed workable. So why is there such reluctance even for an open debate on the issue? Is the issue safety or social engineering? Is there a hidden agenda to move the game away from its working class routes and fill our grounds with middle class fans who will buy the merchandise, clap quietly in their seats, join in with the orchestrated singing over the PA, but disappear as soon as football stops being trendy? Peter Caton Stand Up Sit Down Note – We do not wish to misrepresent the views of the FLA and full notes of our meeting stating the views of SUSD and the FLA can be read on our website www.standupsitdown.co.uk
  3. Eddie - sorry! Was doing the rounds of all the sites at work and didn't have much time to find previous threads and tag on the end of those. Rovers - thanks for your support and all the other Blackburn supporters who have already joined us. Please, keep spreading the word to fellow supporters, friends, family and colleagues. A recent investigation showed up the FLA as one of 9 Government quangos that are viewed to be a complete waste of money and with an election looming and an ever larger membership of SUSD hopefully there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. None of us expected to force change over night but the more supporters who back as the stronger we'll become.
  4. Campaign Stand Up Sit Down now has 1800 members and almost 4000 signatures on our online petition, from supporters of 140 clubs. West Ham are the largest single club comprising 15% of members, and others from whom many have joined include Sunderland, Newcastle, Manchester United, Brighton, Bristol Rovers, Bristol City, Reading, Dunfermline, and Aberdeen. It is interesting that generally clubs from outside the Premiership have the most members in relation to the size of their support. A few clubs however have far fewer members than would be expected for their size; notably Chelsea. We have written to fifty clubs, and our letter was discussed at a meeting of Premiership clubs, where most agreed not to reply. Leicester City and Crewe however wrote expressing their support, and several other clubs contacted us, saying they supported our objectives, but did not wish to be quoted. Leicester City FC and Leicester Tigers RFC, who are hoping to share the Walkers Stadium, have said that they would like to introduce standing areas for both sets of supporters. Norwich recently held a meeting with 150 supporters who voted overwhelmingly in favour of standing areas and the club have now said that they will pledge their support to standing pressure groups. Privately several club safety officers have told us that they have no objection to standing in some parts of their grounds, but are unwilling to be quoted. It is our understanding that a significant number of safety officers share this view. A senior safety official within a local authority has told us that he considers it safe to stand in some parts of grounds, that music concerts are more dangerous than standing at football, and in the time honoured phrase, ‘the law is an ass’. We met with the Premier League and Football Leagues, and whilst we believe that our proposals were viewed with interest, neither organisation was happy for us to publicise what was said. The Police have said that the issue of standing at football grounds is not a criminal offence and as such is not enforced by them. They say they only get involved when there is reason to believe a steward may be at risk in tackling fans who are standing. We have written to all major political parties. The Minister for Sport said that Government policy remains that the top two divisions should be all seated, and that our proposals amount to re-introduction of standing without the safeguards. We understand however that Government policy makers in Downing Street may be more flexible. The Shadow Sports Minister said that he sees no real cause to reconsider the recommendations of the Taylor Report, but gave some encouragement by saying that it is now incumbent on the relevant football clubs to demonstrate ways in which they would maintain or improve safety at grounds. Angela Watkinson MP has advised that an incoming Conservative government would have no objections in principle to the reintroduction of standing areas, provided that they enjoyed the full support of the club involved, police & the FA. The Liberal Democrat Sports Spokesman said that he was a strong supporter of the right of football supporters to be able to stand, and that within his party we have strong support. A number of individual MPs have stated their support for our proposals, including former Sports Minister, Kate Hoey. We recently met with the FLA, presenting a 300 page dossier outlining our case. The FLA consider that any standing in seated areas, even those of low rake is a safety risk due to the possibility of supporters falling and a cascade effect occurring. We will cover this very interesting meeting in a future article, but currently are trying to get the FLA to agree our written account of what was said, so there can be no suggestion of misquotes. Strangely they have accepted the notes, but consider that the summary, which largely outlines stated FLA policy, seriously misrepresents them. It is the duty of the FLA, Local Authorities and football clubs to ensure ‘reasonable safety’, and it should be noted that Lord Taylor said that 100% safety could only be achieved in an empty stadium. Stand Up Sit Down considers that in seeking to stop standing in areas of very low risk, such as gently sloped lower tiers, that the FLA are going beyond the definition of reasonable safety. On many occasions the actions of the authorities in attempting to stop standing has caused more problems than those presented by the actual standing. We have highlighted a number of examples of conflict caused by heavy handed or unfair stewarding, such as differences in the treatment of home and away fans. The FLA have said that they believe spectators are at greater risk if they are already standing prior to a goal celebration. Many supporters have commented on this, and all have the opposite view. We consider that people are less likely to be involved in collisions if they are already standing, so that our proposals would improve safety. The FLA have said that where an area has been designed for seated spectators, those who stand will not get a clear view of the pitch. Supporter’s opinions have been canvassed and none agreed with the FLA. Why would they stand if they could not see? We have taken up the issue of seats which for reasons of design or view, cause supporters to tend to stand. One of the recommendations of The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds is that design should ensure that spectators are encouraged to remain seated and do not have to stretch or strain to view an event. Our members have highlighted a number of examples where this recommendation does not appear to be met, the worst example being the School End Upper Tier at Loftus Road, where it is not possible to see the end of the pitch and part of the goal whilst seated. We have taken this up with QPR, sending comments from many West Ham supporters, but their Safety Officer has been far from helpful. We have therefore written to Hammersmith Council, suggesting that if they consider that the seats from which it is necessary to stand in order to see goalmouth action constitute a safety risk, they either instruct QPR to move the pitch forward, or to close the stand. Conclusion It is our belief that the proposals put forward by Stand Up Sit Down represent the best opportunity for a resolution of the standing issue for the benefit of all concerned. They are well supported by those who watch football, and we believe many within the administration of the game see them as a good compromise solution, but for various reasons are unwilling to say so publicly. The more members we have the harder it will be for the authorities to ignore us. If you have not already done so please join us at www.standupsitdown.co.uk.
  5. www.standupsitdown.co.uk We are to meet with the FLA in January to discuss our proposals. An summary of the meeting will follow. We have written again to several people from within the game who we know are supportive of what we wish to achieve asking that they back our objectives and speak out. Derby County Supporters Trust have placed on the record that they feel that supporter groups should now lobby for safe standing. Tottenham's and Millwall's Trust are speaking to their members to see if they wish their respective Trusts to officially support us. We are hoping other Trusts will follow suit and have also contacted Supporters Direct asking for their support. We have compiled dossier of supporter feedback on issues surrounding safe standing. Comments very supportive of our aims and many critical about seating arrangements at various grounds. For example, from a seated position at many grounds you cannot see the whole pitch. We are awaiting result of survey carried out by Football Fans Census. Early indications are that the results are in our favour with only 10% of respondents against seperate standing areas. We still need to boost our membership and number of signatures on our petition. The more people respond, the more weight we carry. Further details may be found at www.standupsitdown.co.uk and if you have any questions, I may be emailed at ajm22769@yahoo.co.uk
  6. Interesting thread... At West Ham, my season ticket is £620 and that was an increase on last season. Non season ticket holders were well used to paying around £40 for our home games pre relegation and if I remember rightly, the most expensive ticket was £46 for Grade A games (Man Utd, Arsenal, etc). We get no extra's with our ST's meaing our first round FA Cup came against Southend cost us £25... I feel for the away support who come to the Boleyn.. we are without a doubt the most expensive club in the Championship. Our tickets should come with a health warning. I doubt if any of you care that much for the Chelsea supporters, but you'd surely have to agree that they were treated appalling last season when it came to their ST renewals. Not only were there large increases but if supporters did not renew within a ridiculously short timescale they were penalised financially... As we all know, the game no longer caters for "traditional" supporters but just those who prefer prawn sarnies to pies.
  7. Back to the top for all you week day posters... Thanks to those of you who have already signed and joined!
  8. I apologise if some of my comments appear crass and I would happilly be corrected but to the best of my knowledge, no footballing disaster has occured because people have been allowed to stand or just because people have stood.. I have stood at games and on a couple of occasions have, in the excitement of a goal celebration, been pushed and knocked into the seats in front. I accept that is part of the game and frankly, have never minded going home with the odd bruise. However, I have never in over 15 years been in a situation where I have been scared or seriously concerned for my safety. Equally, I have never witnessed anybody being seriously hurt or any serious incident occuring because people have stood. I have witnessed plenty of arguments and heated situations where over zealous stewards and police have moved in to force people to sit. I would not advocate people being allowed to stand in upper tiers, particuarly steep ones. But most lower tiers are not steep and people have stood on those, regardless of rules and regulations, without coming to any real harm. Playing devils advocate.... if there were a serious incident at a ground, what would your natural inclination be? No doubt to stand and get the hell out of there or onto the pitch. Seats could more than likely hamper your progress and cause more panic because people couldn't move quickly...
  9. Modes, the idea is that each ground has a designated area for those who want to stand meaning those, like you, who prefer to sit can do so without having the view obscured by somebody's backside. As I said, the campaign is about people like you just as much as it is about people like me who want stand! So, if you don't want to be forced to stand because of those around you then your signature and joining is just as valid and important.
  10. We do not sit because of the law, we sit because of recommendations... Peter, the originator of the campaign has just been on 5 Live with a bod from the FLA... it would appear that everybody has been consulted on this issue with the exception of us the supporters... draw your own conclusions! It amazes me that the fact that millions stood for decades without suffering injury (beyond the odd bruise or grazed knee) and that non of the footballing tragedies were because of people standing are blissfully ignored by these people who, because they cannot come up with logical objections to safe standing, come up with the most absurd reasoning against it. Apparently safety is paramount.... below is a quote from a letter I received from the FLA in the context that they say standing obscures vision of the pitch. OK, you don't get a perfect view of the pitch while standing but if people were that bothered why do 100's of supporters still stand at games - when they can get away with it?! "...if you are along the sides you will be forced to stretch and strain to follow play down the wings thereby increasing the risk of losing balance and falling..." Thanks for the edit! I have no objection to people caring about my safety but I strongly object to lack of reasoning and common sense. 2244 people have signed the petition at the last count, but while that is extremely helpful, a large membership is just as important, so please sign AND join! The campaign is not about the re-introduction of terracing but standing in front of your seat in a designated area. Stand Up Sit Down represents those who want to sit as well...
  11. STAND UP SIT DOWN STAND UP SIT DOWN was launched in July as a new initiative for a common sense solution to the issue of standing. We propose that at least one area of each ground be selected where supporters would be permitted to stand in front of their allocated seats. It is not just a campaign for standing, but to restore choice for all supporters. This is an issue about which many supporters feel very strongly, and we are proposing a compromise solution, as an alternative to the current conflict and increasing sanctions by the authorities. To date we have 750 members and over 2000 signatures on our petition, from supporters of more than 110 clubs. The average age of members is around 30. About 10% say they prefer to sit and 90% stand. We have received encouraging replies from some clubs, and others agree privately, but are unwilling to be quoted. We have met with both the Premier League and the Football League, and are seeking a meeting with the FLA. We have also been invited to address the Safety Committee for West Ham, which will be an opportunity to put our proposals to various bodies, including the police & FLA. Many of our members came via online forums, but tended to come in groups from each club, while the thread was on the top page. We hope that this new post will generate further interest, and update those who are already aware of the campaign. For full details, visit www.standupsitdown.co.uk Please both sign the petition and join the campaign, as the more members we have, the greater will be our influence. A summary of our proposed solution and its benefits follows: PROPOSED SOLUTION The suitability for standing to be objectively assessed for each area of every ground, with input from clubs and supporters, rather than the current blanket ban applied to the top two divisions. At least one area of each ground to be selected where supporters would be permitted to stand in front of their allocated seats. Persistent standing not to be tolerated in other areas, ensuring that those who prefer to sit will not have their view blocked by others standing. Where possible, away supporters allocations to be divided into standing and sitting areas, by tier (upper seated, lower standing), block, or rows (front seated, back standing). This is a compromise and achievable solution, based on common sense, and for the benefit of all concerned. The preferred option for many supporters of new safe standing areas, is unlikely to become reality in the foreseeable future, for both financial and political reasons. BENEFITS OF OUR PROPOSED SOLUTION Dealing with safety according to the specific risk in each area, is likely to achieve greater supporter compliance, than the use of increasingly severe sanctions to force them to sit in areas where few people see a real safety risk. Deals with the customer care issue, by separating supporters who wish to stand, from those who prefer or need to sit. Allows crowd management, by allocating each supporter their own individual space (in front of their numbered seat). Requires no major financial outlay, or significant ground modifications. Capacities would be as for current seated areas, so present exit, toilet & catering facilities would remain satisfactory. Causes no loss in income for clubs. Ticket prices would remain similar to current seats, and improved atmosphere may even attract additional supporters. Allows those who wish to stand and vocally support their team, to congregate in the same area, and to generate improved atmosphere. STAND UP SIT DOWN PO Box 51, Purfleet, Essex, RM19 1SY www.standupsitdown.co.uk
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