Man United granted permission to install safe-standing seats
Premier League – Manchester United v Burnley – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – January 22, 2020 General view outside the stadium before the match [REUTERS/Phil Noble]

Manchester United have been granted permission to trial 1,500 safe-standing seats (rail seats) for use by fans when they are allowed to return to stadiums.

Old Trafford was turned into an all-seater in 1994 and has not had a standing fans section since then.

Even though fans appear not to be allowed to throng stadiums for months following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Trafford Council has approved trial of safe-standing at the J Stand (North-East Quadrant) following changes in protocols and a feasibility study concluded the project is achievable, according to English news outlets.

“Our belief is that the introduction of barrier seats will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium whereas with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing. It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy. If the trial is successful, we may consider the further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium,” said managing director Richie Arnold, quoted on United Report.

He admitted at some point in the future, fans will be allowed to go into the stadium again and the project must be alive to the fact.

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“It may seem strange to talk about stadium plans at this time, but football and our fans will return when it is safe, and our preparations for that must continue in the background,” he explained.

Manchester United are currently 5th in the Premier League table with 45 points after 29 games.

They are also still in the Europa League Round of 16 and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Once football returns, teams will be able to make more than 3 substitutions in a match

World football governing body FIFA have on Monday, April 27, reportedly proposed teams be allowed to make five substitutions in one match in order to cope with the fixture congestion once sporting action resumes.

According to a FIFA Spokesman who spoke to English news outlet BBC Sport, the safety of players remained the body’s main priority, with the acknowledgment of high demand over a short period of time from players once league action resumes.

“Safety of the players is one of FIFA’s main priorities. One concern in this regard is that the higher-than-normal frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to a resulting player overload,” the spokesman told BBC Sport.

The spokesman added human life was more important than sport, and the body would only resolve to resume football action once health authorities give the green light.

“Football should only resume when the health authorities and governments say it is absolutely safe and non-disruptive of health services being delivered to the populations…”

These proposals, however, are subject to consent from the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for making football rules.


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