To stand or not to stand?

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One of the few photographers allowed into St Mary's these days is a gentleman, presumably from Hampshire Constabulary nicely decked out in his high visibility jacket and pointing a camera at various sections of the crowd during the game.

What the pictures being taken are to be used for I don’t know but the reason for them being taken is because Ground Regulation 13 states that ‘Persistent standing in seated areas’ is not allowed.

The reason for this is both Health and Safety and because it can spoil the enjoyment of those around that would prefer to sit.

From personal experience, I completely understand why professional football cannot return to the days of large areas of terracing with little control over the number of people crammed into them.

I was in such an area at the old Clock End of Highbury in the late eighties.

Unfortunately my enjoyment of Arsenal v Liverpool that evening was somewhat tempered by the fact that I spent most of the match trying to work out ways of breathing whilst being jammed up against one of the unforgiving barriers that were supposedly there as a safety feature.

In the modern era with one ticket per seat there is no chance of overcrowding.

And whilst there is an unofficial standing area at most, if not all, all seater stadia, I am not aware of any major issues being reported as being caused by the ‘surges’ that the health and safety people say will happen if people stand up for too long.

Personally I have no desire at all to stand and watch my football but I understand that some people do and I respect that - so why can’t the authorities treat them like adults and give them that option?

This can be achieved by having one area in each ground where the ticket states that a higher proportion of supporters may be standing will prevent those that want to sit with an unobstructed view from buying tickets in this area.

It could also reduce the policing costs by removing the officer with the camera from duty!

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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