Football: Safe Standing DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Royston SmithMain Page: Royston Smith (Conservative) - Southampton, Itchen)
Does my hon. Friend accept that it has become very expensive to attend football matches, and standing areas might allow cheaper access to football for genuine fans?
I will start with a fact: standing happens at every football match, whether that is legal standing up the pyramid to league one or the blind eye turned to it in the premier league and the championship. Every match-going fan knows that away from home they will stand whether they want to or not, and they know the areas of their own ground where stewards will let it go. The choice before us is not between football fans standing and not standing; it is a question of how to make it safe and as enjoyable as possible. The rules are out-of-date and we need our Government to act.
It is clear from the turnout how many MPs this campaign has reached. I was pleased to host an event on this important issue for the Football Supporters Federation, safety experts and parliamentary colleagues before today’s debate. Safe standing is an issue whose time has come, a fact borne out by the simple numbers. It is borne out by its successful use outside the top two flights week in, week out. It is borne out by the 94% of fans surveyed by the EFL, who made it clear that they wanted a choice in the type of match day experience they had. It is also borne out by the more than 100,000 football fans and supporters who signed the petition to secure today’s debate. Fans want safe standing even if they do not want it for themselves, and it is increasingly clear that clubs want safe standing, too.
I was delighted that earlier this month my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Dr Allin-Khan) announced that the Labour party backs safe standing. I salute her leadership on the issue.