Tuesday 9 June 2015 14:34, UK
Celtic will become the first British club to introduce safe-standing areas of rail seating.
Having been at the forefront of attempts to introduce a facility that has become increasingly popular in continental Europe, the Scottish champions have announced plans to put rail seats in place for the 2016-17 season.
An initial 2,600 supporters will be accommodated within these areas at Celtic Park after extensive dialogue with relevant authorities for the past five years, and lengthy consultation with supporters.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “We have worked tirelessly on this issue and we are delighted that permission has finally been granted.
“Across football globally, the reality is that some supporters are choosing to stand at matches. This is something we must accept and manage and also understand the positive effect which these areas have on atmosphere at matches.
“The introduction of rail seating at Celtic Park represents an investment in spectator safety. Celtic’s primary objective will always be the safety and comfort of its supporters and this new system will now allow fans to stand safely at matches.
“Rail seating has been in place in European football for some time and there has been considerable demand for some form of safe standing within the UK and particularly from our supporters. We are sure the rail seating section will prove very popular with supporters and we look forward to its introduction.”
Currently, the Football Spectators Act 1989 requires safety authorities to ensure fans attending games in England's top two divisions are seated.
All-seater stadiums were introduced in the UK following the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989, but in many European countries football fans are allowed to stand at top-level games, with Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion in Germany a prime example of the effective use of rail seating.
Celtic’s primary objective will always be the safety and comfort of its supporters and this new system will now allow fans to stand safely at matches.
Independent Safety and Security expert Dr Steve Frosdick has been closely involved in Celtic’s work in this area and in the application to the Glasgow City Council.
He said: "This is a great day for the club and its fans. This is a pioneering move by Celtic and one which has spectator safety at its core.
“For the first time in the UK, football fans will be able to stand to watch the game from purpose-built accommodation which is demonstrably safe.
"The club and its fans are to be congratulated for the way they have worked together to make the case to the authorities. Glasgow City Council and the emergency services are also to be commended, firstly for their rigorous scrutiny of the proposal and secondly for having the courage to grant the first approval.
“Although standing up throughout the match has become increasingly common, persistent standing between rows of seats has been a concern for football clubs and the authorities. Clearly the club was keen to find a better way of safely accommodating those fans who wanted to stand.
“There was of course no question of going back to the standing terraces of old. However, the new style rail seating found in Germany and Austria provides the solution the club was seeking. The seat folds away and each fan stands in their own designated space behind a waist-high rail.
“This is a system which has operated successfully in Europe for a number of years and I am convinced it is one which will prove to be highly successful and popular at Celtic Park.”