29th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster ( David Blunsden/Imago/PA Images)

Hillsborough Justice Campaign welcomes debate on safe standing introduction

Sheila Coleman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign has penned an article supporting the debate into the introduction of safe standing in England.

Following a parliamentary debate earlier this week, the government commissioned an official review of the issue – which will be completed by the end of the year.

Last year, Liverpool supporters union Spirit of Shankly polled its members and found 88% to be in favour the introduction of rail seating areas in football stadiums.

Coleman, a long-term spokeswoman for the HJC, states that: “It remains the collective view of the HJC that standing never killed anyone at a football match.”

She adds: “It is of some concern to us that some are using the Hillsborough Disaster to argue against standing. To do so is, in our opinion, disingenuous. It implies that standing was a factor in the unlawful killing of 96 supporters.”

What’s important to note is that this is a proposed introduction of rail seating, aka safe standing, not a return to terraces of the 1970s and 1980s. Coleman writes: “We have to move forward. Never again should football supporters be treated as they were in the 1980s.

“Safe standing does not mean going back in time but it can be the start of a new era for football. One where supporters are treated with a respect long denied.”

The HJC’s view that a debate into safe standing is healthy is different to the Hillsborough Family Support Group who oppose the idea.

The opinion of many supporters who regularly attend matches is that the current situation, where thousands of fans stand in seated areas, is less safe the rail seating concepts that successfully have been implemented in Germany, Holland and at Celtic.

It can also be argued that the ultimate legacy to the 96 is to make standing safe.