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Arsenal lagging behind Premier League rivals on Safe Standing campaign

07:29 02 February 2017

Safe standing at Celtic Park

Safe standing at Celtic Park

Archant

Arsenal are in danger of being left behind in the drive to reintroduce safe standing at top-level football, according to campaigners.

At a meeting organised by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, fans learned that the Gunners – unlike other leading Premier League clubs – have yet to fully commit themselves to backing the Safe Standing campaign.

Following the meeting Jon Darch, founder of the Safe Standing roadshow, said: “Manchester United have asked for fans’ views in a questionnaire and Chelsea and Tottenham have made clear that their new stadiums are being constructed with safe standing considered.

“While [Arsenal chief executive] Ivan Gazidis admits he’s interested by the idea, and [Arsene] Wenger has given it his backing, as a club they’re yet to announce their support.

“If they don’t do so soon, they’re at risk of being the last top Premier League club to get on board.”

The debate about reintroducing standing to Premier League and Championship stadiums is of particular interest to Arsenal fans, many of whom have voiced their discontent about a lack of atmosphere at home games.

Celtic supporters have hailed their club’s success with a trial of 3,000 Safe Standing rail seats and there are hopes that a similar scheme could have a positive effect on the atmosphere at the Emirates.

Akhil Vyas, an AST board member and Arsenal season ticket-holder, said: “A standing section would also be known as a singing section – the home supporters could get the atmosphere going like away fans do.

“With a better atmosphere, you can help influence the game in terms of key decisions.”

Questions were raised as to how the Safe Standing campaign could help reduce ticket costs – which are notoriously high at Arsenal – with the idea of accommodating more than one person per rail seat put forward as a possibility.

Peter Daykin of the Football Supporters’ Federation said: “Costs of tickets at Arsenal are ludicrous. Our aim is to remove the impediment and leave clubs to discuss pricing at a local level.”

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have issued a survey which urges Gunners fans to give their views. The results of the questionnaire will be used as evidence in discussions with the club and the Premier League, which are due to take place soon.

An Arsenal spokesman stated: “We supported the Premier League undertaking a review to ascertain whether standing can be introduced safely and without reintroducing some of the historic issues in the game.

“This will take some time, but the process has begun.”

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