Celtic Club will introduce groundbreaking safe standing to Britain

  • AFP, Glasgow
  • Updated: Jul 16, 2016 14:50 IST
A big screen displaying New Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers as he is presented after the press conference. (REUTERS)

Celtic have become the first British club to introduce safe standing after the completion of a 2,600 capacity rail seating area at Celtic Park.

The Glasgow club will open the area in the Lisbon Lions Stand, home to the Green Brigade supporters group, on Saturday when they take on German side Wolfsburg in Brendan Rodger’s first home game in charge of the Hoops which he will hope shows a marked improvement after the humiliating 1-0 loss to Gibraltar part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in their Champions League clash earlier this week.

The Scottish champions were granted a safe-standing licence from Glasgow City Council in June last year after five years of talks which had resulted in two previous applications being rejected, amid concerns over the initiative’s safety.

Celtic have paid £500,000 ($660,000, 600,000 euros) to replace the fixed seating area with a rail seating system more commonly found in the German Bundesliga, most notably Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalen Stadion.

It is a significant development in British football, given the long-term resistance to any reintroduction of standing by the game’s key decision makers.

Standing at English football matches was banned after the publication of the Taylor Report in 1990, following the Hillsborough Stadium disaster which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters one year earlier.

Celtic removed the standing areas at Parkhead in 1994 to comply with the provisions of the Taylor Report - which was accepted as the safety standard by the Scottish Football Association although it had no force in Scots law - when the stadium was reconstructed to its current 60,000 capacity under the ownership of Fergus McCann.

A statement on the Celtic website said: “Demand from supporters for a place in the revamped area has been huge as the club embarks on a new era under manager Brendan Rodgers.

“The introduction of the rail seating section is seen as a significant investment in spectator safety by the club, allowing fans in the area to stand safely at matches.”

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell also revealed his delight when permission was first granted.

“Celtic has worked tirelessly on this issue and we are delighted that this permission has finally been granted,” Lawwell said.

“Across football globally, the reality is that some supporters are choosing to stand at matches.

“This is something we must accept and manage and also understand the positive effect which these areas have on atmosphere at matches.”

However, the use of safe standing area will not be allowed on Wednesday when Celtic attempt to overturn their first leg deficit against the Imps in their Champions League second round qualifier because UEFA rules prohibit the facility at European fixtures.

The Football Supporters’ Federation have been championing the idea of safe-standing since 2002 and it is hoped a successful trial in Scotland could lead to its implementation in England in the near future.

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