Spirit of Shankly note the publication of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review of standing at football matches and the headlines and conclusions drawn from it. The main conclusion drawn today focussed on there not being enough evidence for change and that further research is required. This is because clubs have never been tasked to record issues nor have supporters been asked to report issues in such a specific way.
Two years ago, SOS canvassed the views of our members and Liverpool FC fans in general, including those of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Hillsborough Justice Campaign, and survivors and families of those at Hillsborough.
Almost 18,000 supporters – an unprecedented number in football-fan surveys of this type – took part in the consultation, offering their views on standing at matches and rail seating. In total 88% voted in favour of safe standing. Of those SOS members who completed the survey, 88.9% were in favour of safe standing.
This overriding majority, set SOS’s policy and position as favourable to the introduction of rail-seating areas. We arrived here following sensitive, sensible, honest and mature conversation, throughout which key themes emerged: supporters should have a choice to sit or stand at games; safety for those who currently stand; and the safety of any future standing model.
We emphasise this remains the first step for LFC supporters, not the conclusion. The outcome of this is not a call for rail seating to be introduced at Anfield. In due course, we will have further consultation with members, survivors, families and our general support, but for now we will take time to digest the DCMS report and reflect on what it means.