32 years after the tragedy that claimed 97 lives, England once again allowed fans to stand in the stands

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The Hillsborough disaster, widespread chaos during the Liverpool-Nottingham Forest match that ended with 97 Reds fans dead, turned 32 on 15 April. Among the various changes to safety rules put in place in English football as a result of the tragedy, one is about to be revised: a ban on fans staying during matches.

Since 1994, five years after the tragedy, it has been mandatory for fans to watch matches from the country’s stands, a list that clubs and fans have been competing for over the past few years. In 2019, requests for review gained momentum after a positive signal from the British government. Now, the change will actually be applied, even if it’s partial.

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According to the English press, Premier League clubs and leagues (second tier) have until October 6 to join a beta program of “Safe Arranging”, which are designated areas for fans who want to stay standing throughout matches.

The model will require a series of rules, such as a code of conduct, ensuring that it does not obstruct the view of others in the stands, as well as the installation of safety rails so that fans can support themselves without the risk of falling or being on them. Clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have already installed these bars in their stadiums.

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Tests will be held until the end of the current season, when the results will be evaluated. It should be noted that despite the ban, it is usual to see fans standing in the country’s stands.

“With independent opinion polls complete and general attendance rebounding across the country, it is time to make progress,” Nigel Huddleston, Britain’s sports minister, said in comments republished by the BBC.

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