Harvey: Standing could be back at Pompey within 12 months
STANDING could be reintroduced to Fratton Park within 12 months.
That is the verdict of Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey as MPs prepare to debate licensed standing at football matches.
On Monday, June 25, politicians will discuss the issue at Westminster Hall, representing another encouraging step for campaigners.
Pompey have long pushed for the introduction of safe standing, with the late Ken Malley and Pam Wilkins at the forefront.
The club joined forces with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to put ongoing pressure on authorities to reassess seating at grounds outside the Premier League.
And while the Football League will not affiliate themselves with any method of standing at games, they are fully behind the concept of supporter choice.
Harvey told The News: ‘The debate takes place on June 25 and there have already been indications the government are open to a review of the current position.
‘We are going to enquire what evidence they are likely to need and ultimately from there put a campaign together to address any questions to try to get the change in legislation which we would hope should be capable of being achieved inside a 12-month period.
‘We believe we can achieve it for a number of reasons.
‘We genuinely believe what we are promoting is appropriate and what fans want, it’s what clubs have asked for.
‘For anybody taking a proportionate view, we can demonstrate that standing at football is no more dangerous than sitting.
‘The fact that there is a Westminster Hall debate and a suggestion they are prepared to consider and review the current position suggests they are receptive.
‘That is in no small part down to the demand of fans.
‘The government are well aware of the arguments we are going to put forward because we have put them forward over an extended period of time.’
Harvey yesterday conducted a conference call with selected regional media explaining his position in the standing debate.
He is heading the Football League’s own push for legislation change, uniting with many member clubs and supporters in the process.
As a result, the Football League have released a video titled ‘Stand up for Choice’, highlighting the benefits of licensed standing areas, with the aim of informing those in authority ahead of Monday’s discussion.
Although, he has distanced himself from the term ‘save standing’ and the potential solution of rail seating.
Harvey added: ‘It’s not safe standing for a start because all standing is safe, that is one of the key issues we address with this debate.
‘It’s not a safety issue, so we are not going to promote something which isn’t already approved.
‘As a league, we are not promoting rail seating, a return to modern terracing, managed standing in seating areas or any other variation of seating that’s available.’