Crabby, I saw this posted elsewhere by someone who attended, hopefully he won''t mind me sharing!! A look at the Safe Standing debate at Carrow Road. #ncfc An interesting debate regarding the campaign for the introduction of safe standing. The presentations made by the pro-lobbyists, namely the Barclay End Projekt and Jon Darch were very good, they both spoke well and presented a strong argument for the introduction. Showing footage of the rail design seating in practice and featuring interviews with Germans who already have the system installed and also people from the football community who support the motion like Nigel Clough. In the interest of balance, the club came armed with a series of statements for the counter argument, these included the most recent public statement from the Sports Minister, a communication received from the family of one of the Hillsborough 96, possible cost implications, their duty of care and of course maintaining the satisfaction of their customer base. The representatives of the club appeared not to have any fixed outlook on the subject as you might expect, with legislation as it is, the whole discussion is just that and irrespective of any personal feeling or standpoint they may have, their hands are tied. When Joe Ferrari spoke, it was after the initial presentations were made and to some I think the possible pitfalls mentioned in accompaniment to the statements he read out verbatim might have had the appearance of the club being against the idea, he was quick to rubbish that and emphasise the “no position” stating that the club were keen to hear from fans and would duly note the discussions. It’s difficult to hear a communication from the family of a Hillsborough victim, but while sympathy will always be with those that lost loved ones, the default position of no terracing is of course one driven by the huge amount of grief and ongoing injustice felt. The truth is that these guys aren’t trying to advocate a return to those days, people in the audience reminisced about the frightening experience at West Ham in the 1989 FA Cup Quarter Final, grown men so tightly packed that I’ve heard numerous first hand accounts of people being shifted and carried involuntarily with their feet clean off the floor, no control over what happened at all. I think it’s fair to say that the whole room was unanimous that those days are better left consigned to history. But while I’m loathe to compare disasters in order to make a point, car ferries still travel to Zeebrugge and if you so choose I’m sure that you can still take a liner across the Atlantic. Terrible tragedies, caused by negligence, error or even just good intentions that were a bad idea, should be learned from and provisions made to try and prevent them from ever happening again. Make things safer, put in measures of prevention but you can’t just stop doing them for fear of a repeat. The proposed rail seating looks every bit as safe as it appears in the Bundesliga, limited numbers and the design giving those standing something to hold onto makes the notion of standing a far more attractive proposition than the swaying masses of yesteryear, indeed one chap indicated that his 82 year old Father would come back to Carrow Road if safe standing was introduced because he can’t sit in the plastic seats for the required amount of time. Interstingly this, in a small way, shows that there could be diverse benefits to the introduction of safe seating as the club were keen to point out that hey have a duty of Customer Care to the fans and explained how much more diverse the crowd was now in terms of women and children attending games and also the limited amount of spare seating and possible ramifications of moving those who didn’t want to stand. Rightly, the lads from BEP intimated that there would be migrants from other parts of the ground to a standing area and that this would free up further seating for those inconvenienced. It was rightly pointed out to them that seats dotted here, there and everywhere would mean groups of friends or families possibly being dispersed. It is a valid point and one that would need very careful consideration before implementation. Having said that, you’d have to think that the club would take great care to ensure that hey had a full consultation with the fanbase prior to any introduction to ascertain the numbers looking to stand in order to make a considered decision with regard to the area converted, the capacity required and numerous other factors. The notion that more families go to the football now and that more women attend matches is borne out by the statistics . However, to suggest that this is down to the introduction of all-seater stadia appears to me, to be wide of the mark. Who in their right mind would have taken their wife and child to a game in the late 70s – ok don’t answer that – but it wasn’t just terracing that was the problem, it was the fact that you were going to a game with a reasonably high chance that you were going to get your head kicked in, or at the very least be exposed to some forms of violence. As time has progressed football clubs have got cleverer with marketing, the violence all but disappeared and in truth you can now circulate relatively safely with fans from the opposition home or away. Incentives for kids has helped build the attendance and certainly contributes to the huge number of season tickets that are sold but the crowds haven’t grown because people can sit down, to think that defies logic. One gentleman in particular was against the idea, he takes his young son to games and the little lad has problems seeing because of people standing in front of him. It’s a problem I can completely empathise with, I take my 10 year old into the Barclay and he has to stand on his seat in order to watch the game. It isn’t ideal and I’m constantly keeping an eye on him and making sure he’s ok. It doesn’t detract from our enjoyment of the game, he loves it in there and the fact that those around me have known my family for many years mean that I know however raucous and nuts we all go when we score, they’re all aware of him being there and will look out for him as the lunacy ensues. The gentleman made his feelings clear that he didn’t feel that it was fair that his son missed swathes of the game because someone twice his size and many times his age was, selfishly, standing in front of him. You’d have to be pretty cold not to agree, but the more he explained his position, the more I found it to be a compelling argument FOR safe standing. If there was a designated area for those who want to stand to be among like-minded folk, the view of that 8 year old would be unimpaired and he’d enjoy it far more. Of course the flip side to that is that my 10 year old wouldn’t enjoy the safe standing as much as he does the “illegal” version as there’d be nothing for him to stand on!!! Other things that stood out to me were the changes in what is deemed dangerous depending on what sport is being played on the green rectangle in front. That terracing is declared as being too dangerous to watch football from but deemed perfectly acceptable to watch Rugby from (with a pint) a few hours later is farcical. The divisional split in terms of what is safe and what isn’t is equally ridiculous, the example given of Edgeley Park is a case in point but is also one that hasn’t been chosen at random, their rapid demise was horrific but now they’re in the 6th tier of English football with the only all-seater stadium in the league because they had the temerity to spend three years in the championship 10 years ago, that rapid descent wasn’t planned and their all-seater ground makes them a victim of circumstances.. It was an enjoyable debate, chaired well, people were allowed to say their piece but it never got heated. Valid points were made by both sides but I have to admit that I came along with an open mind but also a realisation. The truth is that the way things stand – boom boom – theres no argument to have. The law is what it is and we can’t expect to change it. The Government are running scared of the issue because how can they realistically change their standpoint. emotions still remain high due to Hillsborough, if anything untoward did happen in “safe seating” imagine the fall out if you were the politician who gave the ok to reverse the decisions made post-Hillsborough, they simply won’t because of the potential for comeback and possible liability insinuations. Until someone in parliament decides to grow a pair, this will remain an issue where there is no easy resolution, it deserves to be talked about at the very least though, tonight was a platform to do just that and I’m left with few reservations over whether it could be viable. In the meantime, people will continue to stand in areas not designed for purpose, people will continue to stand “dangerously” and people will keep blocking that little lads view of the game. None of that can be right when there is a viable option available that could cater for everyone. By the same rationale, everybody who owns a season ticket or buys a ticket is aware that there is no standing area, that they ignore that, myself included, is fundamentally wrong and shows, in some cases, a lack of respect for the fellow fan and that’s just not on. This will run and run, I hope a few more take the opportunity to learn about the standing option and that the prospect is given the time and thought that it deserves by those that make the decisions in Westminster.