Newcastle United to install safe standing area in St James' Park for away fans

St James' Park, Newcastle
The introduction comes after more than 30 years of all-seater stadiums being adopted for Premier League games in the 1990s following the Hillsborough disaster. Credit: PA

Newcastle United Football Club will install a safe standing area in St James' Park this summer.

Rail seating, where fans can stand, will be put into the away section of the ground following guidance from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).

The implementation comes after more than 30 years of all-seater stadiums being adopted for Premier League games in the 1990s.

It was following a recommendation in the Taylor Report after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 97 people died in a crush at the FA Cup semi-final.

The Government however, made an announcement on 4 July that Premier League and Championship clubs wanting to reintroduce 'safe standing' areas could do so.

Licensed football stadiums can install the areas from the start of the 2022/23 season.

The rail seating will initially be for away fans, but NUFC will look to introduce a similar arrangement in the home areas of St James' from 2023, depending on the outcome of a consultation process.

This is to avoid disruption over the coming season to NUFC season ticket holders.

The SGSA said the front section of the away area, which is located in the upper part of the Leazes End, would be improved from having the added infrastructure.

Currently, no supporters are allowed to stand.

A safe standing area is likely to be installed for away fans in the Leazes end of the ground to begin with. Credit: PA

Dave Gregory, head of safety and security at Newcastle United, said: "The addition of rail seating will add an enhanced safety provision in an elevated part of the stadium.

"We are committed to making St James' Park as safe as possible for everyone, and we look forward to working with our supporters to identify an area for fans who may wish to stand in future."

Members of the Football Supporters' Association (FSA) have long been calling for football clubs to work with their fans to decide the perfect mix of standing and seating in club grounds.

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said: "Match-going supporters know the benefits of safe standing are enormous, with better atmospheres and more choice for fans, whether they prefer to sit or stand.

"That's now possible and it's no surprise at all that more clubs are already looking to join last season's early adopters and install their own safe standing areas."

Once given the go-ahead, fans would be allowed to stand at St James' Park in allocated spaces with a numbered ticket.

This would either be behind barriers or in a railed area.

Under the current plans, sections of the ground would remain all-seated areas.

Martyn Henderson OBE, SGSA chief executive, said: "We welcome the controlled return of standing for the modern era, which has been made possible by a very close collaboration with the Government.

"This is an historic moment for football - and, most importantly, for the fans who have campaigned for this change and will be safer as a result of today's decision."

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