Pompey voice support for return of safe standing

Pompey are supporters of safe standing proposals. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey are supporters of safe standing proposals. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey are continuing to stand up for safe standing.

And chief executive Mark Catlin will be ‘vocal’ in voicing the club’s support for allowing a section of supporters to stand at games, while at the Football League’s AGM.

The event begins in earnest in the Algarve in Portugal today – with two days of meetings scheduled after an introductory dinner took place last night.

And safe standing looks set to be one of the hot topics of conversation among representatives of the league’s 72 clubs.

The EFL look keen to up the ante in bringing back standing across all of its divisions.

That’s after chief executive Shaun Harvey asked for the government to change its position on the subject and allow EFL members the choice of implementing standing sections at their stadiums.

That call was heeded with a review now set to take place and the matter being discussed in parliament on June 25.

Standing in the top two divisions has been outlawed since 1989 – following the publication of the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster which saw 96 people die.

Clubs in League One and League Two without fully-seated stadia have had that option, however.

There has been a mandate from EFL clubs to pursue its return since 2014 but the topic is now gathering pace.

And Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin intends to push his club’s backing for its return in discussions.

He said: ‘This year I think there could be a lot of talk about safe standing.

‘It continues to be a big issue which will continue to be discussed.

‘That’s obviously something which is very close to our hearts and something we are very passionate about.

‘If the law changes we would do what we could to support that but obviously with safety and security at the forefront of everything we do.

‘We’d always be vocal in Portsmouth’s support of safe standing.

‘That is both in official meetings and unofficially when we are discussing the topic with other chief execs and chairmen when the meeting’s finished.’

Whether clubs should be required to produce programmes – Pompey have already stated theirs will continue – and removing extra-time from the Carabao Cup are other topics being discussed at the AGM.

But increased meetings during the year mean those matters have already been on the agenda.

Catlin added: ‘The Football League has worked hard since Shaun Harvey became chief executive to deal with issues during the year and not bottle it up for the conference.

‘That means the conference is more for rubber-stamping and a general think tank for clubs to get together, compare best practice and chat about the coming year.

‘There are more regular regional meetings now, regular divisional meetings and times when everyone gets together.

‘It’s not the like the old days when things like B teams get ironed out. The league tend to gauge opinion and then decide if it’s worth bringing to the table.’