Bristol Rovers and Bristol City fans call for safe standing at new grounds
BRISTOL Rovers fans have joined their Bristol City counterparts in calling for terraces to be part of their new stadium.
Fans at the two clubs – which are both lining up new stadium developments – are keen to secure the 'safe standing' options to generate atmosphere and create choice.
It is currently a requirement for all teams in the top two tiers of the football leagues to have all-seater stadia if they have been in the leagues for more than three years since the early 1990s.
Fans at Championship Bristol City hope to press the government to allow the club's new stadium in Ashton Vale or at Ashton Gate to become a pilot for safe standing.
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While fans at League Two Bristol Rovers have set up a petition to secure a safe standing area in their new home in Stoke Gifford to generate an atmosphere like the one at the Memorial Ground.
Bristol City has backed the Safe Standing Campaign, run by the Football Supporters' Federation, and in Saturday's match day program executive director Doug Harman reiterated the club's desires.
Jon Darch, Bristol City Supporters' Club and Trust board member and operator of the Safe Standing Campaign roadshow, hopes regulations can be lifted to allow safe standing at the new ground.
He told The Post: "What we are talking about is not a return to an old-fashioned terrace but a new form of terracing which is safe. A number of clubs are supporting the idea and we would like to see trials here.
"Why should football fans be denied the choice that people attending other sports across the country have? The other benefits are atmosphere."
He said he supported the Rovers fans' wishes too but admitted that the barriers facing them were different.
"I understand you have to think about the future and if Rovers want to move up the leagues they can't have standing as the rules are."
He added he would encourage designers to at least add the option so that if the rules do change the club can adapt and keep the fans happy while improving atmosphere at the new ground.
Jem Hector, 38, a Bristol Rovers fan who works as a civil servant, has started a campaign for safe standing at the club's planned stadium near the Ministry of Defence.
He said: "The main issue is that we have got a great atmosphere at the Memorial Ground and we want to preserve that. Rail seats would mean we maintain the tradition of the Blackthorn End."
Mr Hector's petition asks for no more than ten per cent of the home end at the new stadium to be installed with rail seats and five per cent of the away end. The seats, which give the option of standing but divide terraces into rows, are used widely in Europe – particularly in the top division in German football.
Mr Hector said if rail seats were not a possibility at the new stadium, he at least wanted to see a commitment to a design which would allow rail seats in the future if rules changed.
"We want to 'future proof' the stadium now so if opinions change on standing the stadium can adapt. What we don't want is to be stuck with an all-seater forever," he said.
But safety officer at Bristol Rovers, David Harper, said the club had no plans to explore the option of safe standing and dismissed the "fruitless petition".
"With the planning application for a 21,000 all-seater stadium there is no question about changing. I can't see any going back now," he said. To sign Mr Hector's petition visit this website.