Thursday, May 31, 2007

Safe standing

Free Image HostingSource; edited from FSF's report on safe standing. The report in full is available for download from their site.

5.16 The dissatisfaction of some Manchester United supporters had become so extreme that they formed their own breakaway club called FC United of Manchester (FCUM) in 2005/6. Whilst the formation of FCUM has been controversial (some Manchester United supporters accusing FCUM followers of ‘desertion’) the breakaway is an example of the disaffection and alienation bubbling under the surface at many clubs, particularly the bigger ones. One of the many issues driving the formation of FCUM is the lack of choice to sit or stand at Old Trafford.

5.17 One FSF member who has attended three FCUM games as a neutral said of his visits, ‘I’d encourage every fan in the country to get along to an FC United game if they can. It’s a real eye-opener. Just how an afternoon out at a professional football match should be. I’ve never heard three thousand fans make so much noise. The passion and wit of the FC United supporters is really something very special. The club board, elected by the fans, is working flat out to encourage a new generation of young supporters into the ground. It has worked very hard to ensure that the stewarding of fans is sensitive and appropriate. Tickets only cost £7(€9.94) for adults and £2 (€2.84) for concessions. You won’t find a better value day out anywhere in the country. The whole sense of the ground on match days is one of empowerment, passion and fun.’

5.18 A medium term objective of the FCUM members and board is to develop its own stadium. Commenting on this, FCUM general manager Andy Walsh says, ‘Many of our supporters prefer to stand and this is an issue that the club is keen to pursue. We’d want safe standing areas as part of any new ground we build.’ The anecdotal evidence of FCUM is supported by recent research conducted by Professor Mike Weed of Canterbury Christ Church University. Professor Weed’s research was not directly related to the issue of standing at football stadia. It was connected with the growth of the culture of watching the game live on television in pubs and bars..