Liverpool buck trend after opting out of government-led programme

Liverpool have gone against the grain after choosing not to take part in the Government’s safe standing pilot programme.

Liverpool buck trend after opting out of government-led programme

Liverpool buck trend after opting out of government-led programme

The ban on safe standing areas in the top two divisions of English football was lifted on Wednesday. From January 1 of 2022, approved clubs will be able to introduce safe standing sections to their grounds.

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However, per the PA, Liverpool will not be part of the scheme. Instead, they will continue with their own trial regarding the implementation of rail seats.

Liverpool installed 1,800 temporary rail seats in the Kop Stand before the season began. The Anfield Road Stand will see 7,000 seats of the same type installed before the end of October as part of a season-long trial.

The Reds reportedly intend to continue with their own trial – which allows spectators to stand safely at key moments but then sit down again – rather than be part of a programme where supporters can stand throughout a match if they so desire.

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That will mean Anfield will continue to be an all-seater stadium as the club move cautiously having been so tragically affected by the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

The introduction of the licensed standing areas follows a commitment by the Government in its 2019 General Election manifesto, and it is a move which has cross-party support.

The pilot will run from New Year’s Day until the end of the season, when there will be a full review.

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Hillsborough campaigner cautiously welcomes changes Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the Hillsborough disaster and is the former chair of the disbanded Hillsborough Family Support Group, gave the pilot programme a cautious welcome on Wednesday.

“My opinion has completely changed from what it was a few years ago,” Aspinall told the PA.

“Safety is paramount, and I hope lessons have been learned. Fans will not be treated, and are not being treated now, like they were in the 1970s and 1980s, herded like cattle.

“Things have changed and we have got to move on with the times. And the times are that the younger ones especially and some of the older generation do like standing, but there needs to be a seat for everyone, that is so important.

“We have got to take this slowly – there is no quick fix and we have got to make sure it’s definitely going to be safe and see how it progresses.

“The priority is the fans and their safety. As long as it’s monitored it should be OK.”

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