Safe-standing would bring back that old atmosphere

YELLOW WALL: Borussia Dortmund's Yellow Wall of fans

YELLOW WALL: Borussia Dortmund's Yellow Wall of fans

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It’s a topic that will always be enshrouded in controversy, but I’m certainly not the only one to be buoyed by the prospect of safe-standing areas at football grounds.

At the Football League’s AGM in Portugal at the beginning of June, Burnley were one of 55 out of the 72 clubs to raise their hands in favour of the motion.

Almost two decades have elapsed since the last ever match was played in front of Turf Moor’s historic Longside when the Clarets beat Hull City 2-1 in a Second Division fixture in September, 1995. And seven months later, adhering to the Taylor Report, the Bee Hole End suffered the same fate as it was demolished following a 1-0 loss to Bristol Rovers.

Those cold, congregative, often unsheltered experiences on the terraces are a thing of the past - but those afternoons and evenings trawling the country with my dad, braving the varying elements, while persevering with the marriage of lower league football and some very questionable amenities were some of the most enjoyable and defining moments of my youth.

There was a simple sense of togetherness between the community that united on the concrete steps week in, week out, penned in behind the metal fencing, but that’s been lost with what’s fast becoming sparsely populated all-seater stadia. That introduction was as inevitable as it was necessary after the horrific tragedy at Hillsborough and there’s 96 reasons to oppose a return for standing areas, but with safety measures and regulations paramount to the sport in the modern day with constant renovation would we realistically witness anything like that again?

The sport is continuously evolving as a package, and Lord Justice Taylor’s legislation has certainly impacted positively on safety as well as having an indirect link on a reduction in hooliganism. However, in a bid to adapt and move forward once more maybe the answer lies in reverting to a more polished version of past traditions.

It would require the Government to agree a change in the law for such a step to take place but the latest vote reflects the growing call for trials. For me, football grounds are more atmospheric when accommodating areas for standing and Peterborough United’s Moy’s End and London Road terraces are an example of that in the Championship.

And that’s another qualm I have with developing stadia - the lack of character, environment and soul of identikit venues that have evaporated the identity and heart of clubs with their isolated, inconvenient location. They include the Ricoh Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, DW Stadium, Cardiff City Stadium, Stadium MK, Reebok Arena, Madejski Stadium and the King Power Stadium.

The development of all-seater stadiums coupled with Sky’s influence had already formed a new generation of armchair managers and these new builds - championing comfort - have only worsened the situation. For fans football is no longer 90 minutes of vociferously backing their respective sides - it’s about meticulously pulling apart performances, analysing tactics, formations and substitutions and criticising players or managers.

The only way we could move away from that would be to introduce standing sections in order for supporters to reignite their love and passion for the sport. You only have to look at Borussia Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall” in the southern standing ranks - die Sudtribune - at Signal Iduna Park or Hannover 96’s AWD Arena to see that German-style rail seats implemented at grounds would be a reasonable and advantageous compromise.