Welsh Conservatives call for devolution of stadium regulation to enable ‘Safe Standing’ pilot
The Welsh Conservatives have renewed their campaign for Safe Standing following a packed festive period for football clubs in Wales.
Party Leader, Andrew RT Davies, has long led the call for a safe standing pilot in Wales and in December 2014 commissioned a survey of supporters in the UK which found that some 96% back a return to standing areas.
Mr Davies is now calling for the devolution of responsibility for sports ground safety management to the Welsh Assembly. The plans would enable a safe standing pilot to be undertaken in Wales.
Mr Davies has previously met with the Sports Minister Tracy Crouch to discuss safe standing and will write to her to formally request the transfer of powers to the Welsh Assembly.
The announcement comes in a new video released by the Welsh Conservatives today which is accessible on the party’s YouTube channel – https://youtu.be/cwcxf0ebTOs
Writing for the Welsh Conservatives’ website – YourVoice – Mr Davies said the issue of standing was one of “fairness” and said that it was time for a pilot to sensibly assess the evidence around safe standing.
“Our plans would allow a limited pilot of safe standing areas in Welsh grounds.
“Advances in stadium technology have made stadiums a far more safe and comfortable environment for fans of all ages, genders and backgrounds. In fact it’s those advances which make ‘safe’ standing areas a straightforward proposition.
“This isn’t about revolution, it’s about common sense and fairness, and we would commission the SGSA to continue to perform the sterling work they do. But the transfer of this power is necessary to enable clubs to press on with a pilot in Wales; a pilot that would address the concerns of sceptics and build a case for a wider roll-out throughout the UK of limited areas, akin to those routinely available in stadiums across the continent.
“Safe standing is a question of fairness. How can it be safe to stand at a rugby match or a concert yet somehow inherently unsafe to stand at the football – often in the same stadiums?
“That simple distinction has never made any sense outside of the context of social attitudes towards football supporters in the 1980s. We wouldn’t accept that kind of discrimination against any other social group or demographic, so why accept it when it’s levelled at football fans?
“Today’s crowds are as family friendly and diverse as they’ve ever been and we don’t want to change that. But we do need to accept that things have changed and start treating football fans with more respect.”
Peter Daykin, safe standing coordinator at the Football Supporters' Federation, said:
"It’s great to see such resounding support for safe standing from political figures across the UK.
"The FSF has always believed that if supporters argue their case with intelligence, passion, patience, and reason, then football and politicians will listen.
"There now seems to be an irresistible demand for a safe standing pilot to be run in Wales and the FSF hopes that progress can be made."
Jon Darch, Director of the Safe Standing Roadshow, said:
“Having taken the safe standing roadshow to the Welsh Assembly last year, I’m delighted to see this call for the devolution of stadium safety powers to Wales.
“That would be a major step forward in achieving the objective of a safe standing pilot in Wales, and coupled with Celtic installing rail seats this summer in Scotland further strengthens the case for similar trials to be allowed in England as well.”
Under Welsh Conservative proposals the Sports Ground Safety Authority would continue to monitor safety at grounds. However, the devolution of responsibility for regulation would enable a Welsh Conservative Government to lift the ban on standing areas and hold a pilot in Wales, where there is cross party backing for safe standing following a vote in 2014.
Please see article by Mr Davies below. It will be published on the Welsh Conservative website –www.yourvoiceintheassembly.co.uk/SafeStandingNow