Liverpool are set to be play in the first game of the Premier League’s safe standing trial next year, despite opting out of the pilot themselves.
The Reds were not among the clubs to apply to take part in the trial, which commences January 1, as they are already conducting their own research with sections in the Kop and the Anfield Road End.
Safe standing is, understandably, still a divisive subject on Merseyside, 32 years on from the tragedy at Hillsborough, but it is widely considered a welcome development in the Premier League.
Liverpool themselves are trialling areas to allow fans to stand during key moments during games such as goals, which should allow for a safer experience due to the installation of rails in front of each seat.
For four Premier League clubs and one in the Championship, however, a pilot of safe standing will take place in the second half of the season that will permit fans to stand throughout.
Given the trial begins on January 1, it is highly likely that Chelsea vs. Liverpool will be the first game to be played as part of the safe standing trial.
Jurgen Klopp’s side head to Stamford Bridge on January 2, and though it is not yet confirmed whether Chelsea plan to implement safe standing as early as then, there is a strong chance that is the case.
The trial will not take place stadium-wide, with all other areas still subject to the terms of the all-seater policy, while supporters in safe standing sections will be able to sit if desired.
However, travelling fans are confirmed to be involved in the trial, with clubs required to install safe standing areas in both the home and away sections.
Criteria for the five clubs taking part in the pilot has been explained by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, as below:
- The necessary infrastructure being in place before January 1 2022 – such as seats with barriers/independent barriers – which must be in both home and away sections
- The seats cannot be locked in the ‘up’ or ‘down’ position, allowing fans the option of being able to sit (for example, during breaks in play)
- There must also be one seat/space per person
- The licensed standing areas must not impact the viewing standards of other fans, including disabled fans
- There must be a Code of Conduct in place for fans in the licensed standing area
- Briefing and training must be in place for staff and stewards to ensure only relevant ticketholders are admitted to the licensed standing areas
- CCTV must be in place and offer full coverage of the licensed standing areas.
- The ground must consult with its Safety Advisory Group about plans for the licensed standing areas
Research will take place across the five stadiums throughout the rest of the campaign, with a view to a wider rollout of the trial for the 2022/23 season.