Pompey chief: FA need to help make safe standing happen

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin Picture: Joe Pepler
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Mark Catlin has called on the Football Association to drive the implementation of safe standing.

There is growing interest among clubs in the Premier League and Football League for a change in the way fans can watch games.

Personally, and on behalf of the club, I would now like this to become an issue for the FA to pick up and make a decision one way or the other

Mark Catlin

As it stands, in accordance with Government legislation in the light of the Hillsborough tragedy, safe standing is not permitted in all-seater stadia.

However, recruiting the FA to the cause would provide a powerful voice to the ongoing debate.

Pompey chief executive Catlin has revealed Football League clubs have already held positive talks over safe standing’s potential introduction.

Yet they need assistance if safety laws are altered to accommodate such a desire.

‘We are very supportive of safe standing, it is something we believe in very strongly and should – at the very minimum – be trialled,’ said Catlin.

‘However, the current legislation for all-seater stadia prohibits it. National law overrides safe standing, so our hands are literally tied.

‘It is something the EFL’s member clubs discussed at our last full conference and there was a general appetite to, at the very least, investigate the feasibility of this.

‘It is moving in what we consider to be the right direction.

‘I believe the majority of the fans are pretty united. If there can be safe standing in a specific area where like-minded people want to stand then why wouldn’t we look at that?

‘What we must do is get the FA on board with this. I believe when it starts to become high on the FA’s agenda then we will see momentum.

‘While the Hillsborough inquiry was ongoing, I don’t believe there was any real appetite to try to bring this to the forefront of people’s minds.

‘Now the inquiry has been brought to a close.

‘Personally, and on behalf of the club, I would now like this to become an issue for the FA to pick up and make a decision one way or the other.’

The late Ken Malley, former chairman of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, had been a keen advocate of safe standing.

Similarly, the Trust have long backed the concept which has been deemed a success in Germany.

Last month, Premier League clubs agreed to stage further talks on supporting its introduction.

Catlin added: ‘Considering what I have seen and read and my knowledge of safe standing, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to increased capacity, far from it, but that is not what it is about.

‘Revenue-wise, you are also not going to generate more from it. However, what we will do is hopefully give fans what they want.

‘There are sections of fans who do want to stand up and, as much as we try to eliminate it, people stand at football grounds across the country.

‘So our view is simple – let’s at least have a look at it.’