Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff City have received approval to have licensed safe standing in seated areas from Jan. 1, British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said on Monday.
The UK government had instructed the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) in September to trial safe standing in selected Premier League and Championship grounds to take the first steps in creating licensed standing areas.
Grounds in England’s top divisions were converted to all-seater stadiums nearly 30 years ago after Liverpool supporters were crushed in over-crowded and fenced-in areas at the Hillsborough Stadium in 1989, which led to 97 deaths.
“I’m pleased to approve these five clubs as early adopters of licensed safe standing areas for the second half of the season,” Huddleston said in a statement.
“The time is now right to properly trial safe standing in the Premier League and EFL Championship ahead of a decision on a widespread roll-out.
“Safety is absolutely paramount and the SGSA is working hand-in-glove with the clubs on this. Fans deserve different options on how they can enjoy a live match and I will be watching the progress of these trials with interest.”
Research is set to be carried out to evaluate the implementation of the licensed standing areas after which the government will decide on a potential wider roll-out next season.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was delighted with the decision after lobbying the government for safe standings areas.
“It delivers choice for fans attending the game – whether home or away supporters – and the vast majority of our fans are in favour of this scheme,” Levy said.
Clubs will have to meet a number of criteria such as seats with barriers in home and away sections and seats that cannot be locked in ‘up’ or ‘down’ positions so fans have the option to sit during breaks in play.
A code of conduct must also be in place for fans along with CCTV coverage.