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Monday, December 6, 2021

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Manchester United and Man City to trial safe standing this season

Safe standing will be introduced at Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium from January 1 as part of a government trial.

Manchester United and Manchester City are two of five clubs who have been chosen to pilot the introduction of safe standing areas within stadiums.

Both clubs had to apply to operate safe standing areas and they have been approved to run a trial in the second half of the 2021/22 season, alongside Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Cardiff City.

United and City had to apply to the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to take part in the trial, with one of the conditions that safe standing areas will be in the home and away ends at Old Trafford and the Etihad.

United had already installed 1,519 barrier seats in the North East quadrant at Old Trafford for home supporters and are now installing 500 barrier seats for visiting fans. At the Etihad rail seating has already been introduced in the South Stand for home supporters.

Collette Roche, chief operating officer at United, said: “We are delighted that Old Trafford will be among the first stadiums in England where safe standing will be trialled from January. This follows the successful installation of barrier seating in the north-east quadrant and we will now follow SGSA guidelines that mandate some barrier seating in the away section.

“While the majority of the stadium will remain seated, we firmly believe safe standing can create choice and increase safety for fans in areas where persistent standing has historically occurred, and we’ll continue to review the potential to install it in other appropriate parts of the ground.”

Danny Wilson, managing director for Manchester City Operations, said: “We are delighted that Manchester City’s application to become an early adopter of licensed standing has been approved.

“Our fans have consistently voiced their support for the introduction of safe standing, and we are pleased that we will be able to fully utilise our rail seating installation from January through to the end of the season.

“As always, safety is our main priority, and we look forward to working closely with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority over the course of the trial to demonstrate the long-term viability of safe standing at the Etihad Stadium.”

Safe standing areas are already in place in the South Stand at the Etihad The pilot will be monitored by CFE Research, an independent firm, and its findings will be provided to the Government for it to make a decision on a possible wider roll-out of safe standing for next season.

In announcing the five clubs to take part in the trial, sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I’m pleased to approve these five clubs as early adopters of licensed safe standing areas for the second half of the season.

“The time is now right to properly trial safe standing in the Premier League and EFL Championship ahead of a decision on a widespread roll-out.

“Safety is absolutely paramount and the SGSA is working hand-in-glove with the clubs on this.

“Fans deserve different options on how they can enjoy a live match and I will be watching the progress of these trials with interest.”

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