Soapbox: from Arsenal to Yeovil, can we stand being made to sit?


To stand or not to stand. That’s the ‘question posed by Pete Sixsmith and countless other supporters. Manchester United fans complain about their Stadium of Light allocation being cut because of persistent refusal to sit; our own away support routinely stands at a number of grounds. It’s almost hit and miss as to whether stewards take action. Now, though, the tide may be turning …

The debate has moved on: there are now real moves to reintroduce standing at Premier League grounds. My faith in top level football, although not restored, is less hostile than it was.

We all know why standing was banned. A combination of Sheffield Wednesday’s indolence, South Yorkshire Police’s serious logistical failures and Sheffield City Council’s inability to carry out rudimentary inspections, led to the tragedy at Hillsborough 22 years ago.

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Manchester United: a questionable stand

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Salut! Sunderland‘s spot of innocent fun on how to keep Alan Hutton at the Stadium of Light attracted nearly three times as many people to the site as will be allowed into the away end when we play Man Utd on May 9. All because United fans like to stand. Let us weigh up the arguments …

One thing needs to be clear. I’d prefer Manchester United to win the title. But success for Chelsea is a price I will happily pay for seeing Sunderland beat United as convincingly as we are able in our final home game.

Unlike many football supporters, I do not dislike Man Utd.

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Manchester United: a standing joke

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No, we’re not having a go at the geographical disposition of United’s support, or trying to wind up the occasionally oafish Gary Neville or his professionally grumpy (and phenomenally succesful) manager. We’re actually sympathising with the club’s travelling fans …

Being refused permission to stand up at football is not something that should, in all honesty, bother me.

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.

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