Manchester United managing director Richard Arnold comes out in support of safe standing

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United group managing director Richard Arnold has come out in support of introducing safe standing at Premier League and Championship grounds.

All-seater stadiums were made mandatory following the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which saw 96 Liverpool supporters lose their lives – although it was later ratified that the tragedy was in no way caused by the issue of standing supporters.

West Bromwich Albion had a proposal to introduce a pilot safe standing section at the Hawthorns for next season rejected by the government on Monday, with Sports Minister Tracey Crouch declaring that those in favour of safe-standing were just a ‘vocal minority’.

This has prompted debate about safe standing, which is in practice at 182 other clubs around the world, and Arnold was adamant that he would push for it to be implemented over the next few years.

“We support it,” he said. “We would like to implement it at Old Trafford if the legislation allowed it.”

“It would be a big deal if Manchester United pushed for it.”

“We have pushed for it, but we have to fit into the environment that we’re in. We need to bring people with us like the local safety advisory group, the police, the government.

“We’re applying constant encouragement. It will help us a lot with clarity and stewarding. My sons, aged 15 and 13, have season tickets in the Stretford End where there is a lot of standing.

“The eldest one is full height and can see most of the game. The younger one is peering between shoulders and not seeing that much during exciting times.”

The Tories like to attribute any ideas which don’t align with their own down to a ‘small, vocal minority’ whilst the majority quietly comply with their edicts and keep their ideas to themselves.

But when it comes to safe standing this is not the case. The argument that Hillsborough was caused by standing no longer holds water (it never did), and those who go to football games almost universally believe that safe standing – which would engender cheaper tickets, better atmosphere, and increased capacity – should be introduced.

In the space of 24 hours, a petition to introduce safe standing has received 15,000 signatures, with the total standing at 40,530 at the time of writing. You can add to that by clicking here.

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