Standing joke or genuine safety issue: SAFC to meet the fans

Jake's art
Jake’s art

From Michael Brunskill,
at the Football Supporters’ Federation, comes news of a useful initiative designed to find a sensible outcome to an emotive issue that divides supporters: the right to stand, or rather the lack of such right.

The FSF is to host a meeting next Tuesday (Feb 19) at the Isis pub, starting 6.30pm) “to discuss problems relating to standing at home matches”.

Importantly, the federation says SAFC officials will be present.

This may, of course, be to do no more than state the club’s case – and explain, justify or preferably overturn decisions to “deactivate” individual supporters’ season tickets, in other words ban them from their places. But the FSF is a little more optimistic, saying:

As you know might know, persistent standing in seated areas has led to some confrontations between supporters and stewards in the lower tier of the South Stand. A number of fans have also had their season tickets deactivated.

The FSF has invited representatives of the club to meet with those fans affected. We hope to work with both sides to find a mutually satisfactory conclusion which allows fans to create the best atmosphere possible and the club to meet its safety obligations.

Salut! Sunderland has addressed the issue in the past – notably at – and is aware that opinions differ sharply.

* Sample from that earlier piece in which Monsieur Salut) voiced support for Man Utd fans after the club was denied a full SoL ticket allocation because of persistent standing:

When the chant goes up to “Stand up if you … ” love or hate this or that, him or them, and is most commonly followed by “hate the Mags”, my heart is with the rival group that responds with “Sit doon if you hate the Toon”.

But there are times, even after rather too many decades of watching the game, when I am moved to rise to my feet because something is happening on the field to bring hope, fear or excitement – or maybe just because I need to be high enough above fans ahead of me to be able to see at all.

And sample response (from “George”):

I don’t agree at all with M Utd fans stance on standing simply because of their arrogance. They think they have a god damn right to do what ever they want at football matches. Its about time they were called to heal for their inability to follow Premier League rules. Whats good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander.

If the FSF
can somehow reconcile the differences that exist, they’ll have done a good job. The pub – see its Facebook page at, from which the image is taken (hope they don’t mind) – is at 26 Silksworth Row.


Monsieur Salut, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, by Matt

9 thoughts on “Standing joke or genuine safety issue: SAFC to meet the fans”

  1. I too prefer to sit,but we all leap up and down when we score, so we do have the best of both worlds.

    I have no objection if others want to stand….as long as it not in front of me.

    Surely the club can facilitate some standing areas if enough really want to do that.I have seen safe standing in some stadiums whereby each row of chairs is removed and a hand rail(leaning bar) put in.this segregates the rows and stops that awful surging you used to get when grounds were full of standing supporters.

    The club have changed the ground design to move away supporters , amybeso they are open to altering things if enough want that.

  2. I’ve stood on the terraces of the Fulwell end and various away grounds as a Sunderland supporter. They were great but I was young and foolish.

    I’ve stood on various terraces as a neutral, including a packed Anfield Kop on a European night, and they have been scary.

    If standing areas are to be allowed they will need to be smaller and much more restricted than in the past. With what effect on atmosphere?

    Is it worth it?

  3. The ‘standing’ thing … I only wish those who would like to see it implemented could travel back in time and actually experience it. I went to matches with huge crowds at Roker (all the ’73 games for example), in addition to away games at Newcastle, Man Utd, Leeds and many others over the years.To watch the game from seats in those days was unattainable luxury indeed for us young fans.

    I accept that safety standards would be hugely improved and that standing could just be an option – and it would surely mean cheaper tickets (definitely not a bad thing to encourage young people).

    The atmosphere can be fantastic at the SOL with the present arrangement for spectators, and with respect to those supporters who disagree, I hope that it remains all-seated.

  4. I take Andy’s points and also spent most of my formative years struggling to see much of the many matches I went to. I also understand Keith’s point but I can’t see why there shouldn’t be a choice – and there should be a majority of seating which costs no more than the standing option.

    But if there are two sections in the ground (one for each set of fans) with sensible design and safety precautions then let those who want to stand.

    I’ll choose to sit.

  5. Standing in football grounds that are operating anywhere close to capacity is extremely dangerous, if they are half full there is no risk. Go to Shieldfield park in Berwick where I spent many weekends when Sunderland were away, you will find it safe when empty, but a death trap when full. Why go back to those days? Roker Park especially the Roker End was very dangerous when full and we all know that.

  6. Standing for those who want may make sense but could require significant redesign.


    1. less steep angle in the stand so people don’t fall with every crowd movement

    2. minimum height / age?

    3, seated couldn’t see over/round those that stand . . could reduce capacity. Might mean putting standing at top of stadium.

    4. should seats / standing cost the same?

    All seated stadiums are a lot better but only if people spend most of the time seated.

  7. I spent more than twenty of my formative football-watching years as a standing spectator, and I can tell you this – sitting is a better way of watching a football match taking place.
    If you want to jump up and down, sing and clap your hands, gesture at the opposing supporters, be pushed back and forth by your fellow supporters or the police, maybe be urinated on by those behind you, then go for the standing option – I’ve done or had done to me all of them.
    All-seater stadiums were a massive leap forward, as those proponents of standing areas who are shorter in stature will soon discover.

  8. I’m sure this will be covered again and again, with little or no movement from the authorites: Governmental and football. At this point in time, taking 2 young daughters to the match, I find the chance to sit for a relatively resonable price (compared against other Premier League clubs) invaluable. I do, however, remember with happiness standing and singing at football grounds all over the counry in support of the lads. I hope to return to standing at football matches one day, as my girls grow up and the authorities grow some sense. I have never been aware of any medical journal that evidenced standing as a reason to be aggressive to the point of violence; I think it’s stupidity and ignorance that cause that mind-set, not your resting position at a football match.
    Although it was far easier at the Swansea game to grab a few minutes sleep in a sitting position.

  9. Whilst I like sitting down (at my height I see more of the game) I can’t see why there should be any problems with standing areas. The whole all seater stadium issue came about because of the government’s paranoia about hooliganism in the wake of the Heysel disaster and then the subsequent Hillsborough debacle, which occurred not, as has now been proved, by misbehaving fans but by the stupidity of the authorities who allowed a game to be played in a stadium that had been refused a safety certificate and by the short-sightedness of idiots who only saw fences as a way of keeping rival supporters apart and not as a potential prison and regrettably death trap.

    I remember the times when football related violence was more prevalent than it is now, but even back then people who went to football matches knew how ridiculous those measures were. All seater stadia will never prevent those who seek violence finding it as the recent arrests surrounding the West Ham game and instances of using seats as weapons have shown.

    Standing areas will also allow people who go to a game together to watch the match together. Let’s hope for once those with the power to make the decisions show some sense – but I won’t hold my breath.

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