Last Saturday 19th April, the Chelsea Supporters Trust, in conjunction with the cfcuk fanzine, hosted the Safe Standing Roadshow on Fulham Road before the Sunderland game. This roadshow was privately presented to the club a couple of months ago and we thought it important that the most important people at any club, the supporters, should have a similar chance to enhance their understanding of the Safe Standing initiative, especially given the current Safe Standing survey open to Chelsea supporters.
We are pleased to say that over a period of nearly five hours, hundreds of Chelsea supporters took the opportunity to see for themselves what ‘rail seating’ looks like, to test it out and to engage with Jon Darch of the Football Supporters’ Federation, who co-ordinates the roadshow and expends a huge amount of energy as an ambassador for Safe Standing. There were some excellent discussions and it is clear that many supporters now have a much clearer understanding of what Safe Standing is (and also what it is not, for example it is not a return to 70’s style terracing).
For those unable to attend the roadshow, there is more information on Safe Standing here.
|The roadshow in action on the day.|
It is a shame that the Fans Forum were not invited by the club to see the roadshow at one of their meetings, as Safe Standing would arguably seem to be of more strategic importance than purely housekeeping issues covered in the latest minutes such as smoking in the Shed End toilets or the availability of matchday food in the MHU.
The roadshow at Chelsea is part of a wider engagement process involving many clubs and their supporters, with a view to influencing them, and the Premier League, of the real benefits Safe Standing would bring. It is clear that some clubs, for example Aston Villa and Manchester United, have shown a real interest in installing Safe Standing in parts of their grounds. The Fans Forum minutes state that “the club doesn’t consider itself to be leading a campaign for this change” but that doesn’t mean they are overtly negative on the issue.
|Rail Seating as installed at Hannover 96’s HDI-Arena|
It is to be fervently hoped that the Premier League discusses the issue at a forthcoming meeting and, as a result, give the green light for such facilities to be installed at grounds. It is a mistake to believe that legislation is needed before it can be used in football grounds – Jon Darch advises it is a only change in regulation that is actually required.
Many thanks to Jon for bringing the roadshow to Stamford Bridge and for his energy and enthusiasm in engaging with so many Chelsea supporters.
The Safe Standing survey for Chelsea supporters, endorsed by 20 supporters groups, websites, fanzines etc, is open until this Friday evening, 25th April. It takes five minutes to complete and you can do so at:
Please share the survey link with your Chelsea supporting friends and family.
We will keep our members informed of developments as the Safe Standing initiative gains momentum across English football.