Shrewsbury Town to become first English club to introduce safe seating :-: talkSPORT


Shrewsbury Town will become the first football club in England and Wales to introduce a safe standing area in their stadium after hitting their crowdfunding target of £65,000.

The Shrews launched the online fund-raising campaign this summer and will now proceed with their plan to install nearly 600 rail seats at their New Meadow home this season.

Thanks to nearly 1,000 contributions from fans of clubs around the country and a £10,000 contribution from online betting firm FansBest, Shrewsbury can now apply for a licence to introduce a standing section.

Football grounds in England's top two divisions have been all-seater by law since Lord Justice Taylor's report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives.

But as Shrewsbury have not played above England's third tier since the legislation was brought in, they can become the first club in England and Wales to put a standing section in a previously all-seater stadium.

In a statement, Shrewsbury's chief executive Brian Caldwell said: "We are delighted that Shrewsbury Town will be the flagship club in addressing this issue, which is so important to so many fans.

"We will now continue the process to introduce rail seating in the Salop Leisure Stand and we hope to have supporters watching home games from the safe-standing area before the end of the season."

Citing the successful introduction of 3,000 rail seats at Celtic Park last season, safe-standing campaigner Jon Darch said: "Celtic have shown that it works in Scotland.

"Now Shrewsbury are going to show that it will work in otherwise all-seater grounds in England and Wales, too."

Fans have been calling for a relaxation of the all-seater requirement for years and a major hurdle was cleared this summer when Liverpool fans voted in favour of rail seats at Anfield.

But the government, backed by senior figures at the Premier League, remains to be convinced, although the top flight is currently consulting with its clubs.

Widely used in Germany, rail seats are flipped up and locked in place when fans are using them as standing areas, and there is a safety barrier that separates each row to prevent surges. To help with crowd control, fans are assigned a space that corresponds to the seat number.

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