Bristol City are happy to embrace the idea of standing at Ashton Gate  (©GettyImages)
Bristol City are happy to embrace the idea of standing at Ashton Gate (©GettyImages).

To stand or not to stand? That is the question

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The issue of re-establishing standing areas at English football grounds has
once again reared its head in the last seven days.

Although some supporters will agree that this could be good for the game, in terms of atmosphere, there will be many more who feel that those days have now gone for good and seating should remain for the safety of all fans.

Last week League One Bristol City expressed their desire to install rail seats at Ashton Gate as part of the ground's redevelopment. Rail seats are common place in the Bundesliga, where teams such as Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund use them in domestic competitions.

They are considered a safe alternative to old style standing areas, as they provide a barrier against the surge or forward movement of supporters.

Some Premier League teams, such as Aston Villa, have also expressed a willingness to engage the idea.

Due to the fact that the use of rail seats are currently prohibited in football
grounds the Ashton Gate club are looking to use them for Rugby matches, in certain areas from the start of the 2014-15 season.

These areas will be closed when Bristol City play their home games but the club are
looking to lobby the Government to allow these areas to exist for football

There are obvious sensitivities surrounding the use of standing areas in English football and rightly so.

The Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives during the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, resulted in all seater stadiums becoming compulsory in the Premier League and Championship due to conclusions reached by the Taylor Report.

Hillsborough was a watershed moment for change at football grounds in England, but is it now time to install safer standing areas in grounds?

There is a popular consensus that some clubs would like a return to standing at their grounds and would like to continue the debate around this subject.

Standing areas do bring advantages in terms of atmosphere but are all standing areas subject to 100% guarantees in terms of safety? Of that I am not sure.

I have some vivid memories of standing at football grounds and some can be quite frightening when I look back now.

If rail seats are allowed then it will be a radical approach that will not please everyone, but on the other hand should there not be a balance struck, particularly if clubs and supporters are willing to give it a go?

Rail seats look to be a balance that could work if there is a general consensus in favour.

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