Jeremy Corbyn backs campaign calling for ‘safe standing’ at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium
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Arsenal fans are calling on the club to aid the match day atmosphere by allowing “safe standing” in some areas of its Emirates Stadium.
Jeremy Corbyn has backed a campaign to bring back “safe standing” in a bid to boost match day atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Remy Marsh, a 15-year-old school boy who goes to “practically” every home game, is petitioning the club hierarchy to create standing areas in The North Bank and Clock End stands of its Hornsey Road home.
The petition, which has so far been signed more than 1,800 times, calls on the club, the PM Theresa May and sports minister Mims Davies to get behind “safe standing at the Emirates”.
The Labour leader and Islington North MP told the Gazette: “I support safe standing at the Emirates and for a limited number of stadiums in order to give more supporters a better chance of seeing football matches – but of course safety must always be the key consideration.
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“I have very happy memories of standing at games at Highbury and Molineux.”
The 1989 Football Spectators’ Act banned standing in the top two tiers of English football.
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This followed the Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium during an FA Cup semi-final tie with Nottingham Forrest in 1989.
“I want to stand up and build the atmosphere,” said Remy.
“I have always had this opinion that standing should be brought back to the Premier League.
“It will bring back the crowds to the team because at smaller games you see quite a lot of empty seats.
“I believe there should be further discussion between all Premier League clubs and the sports minister.”
Last April the former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, who led the club for nearly 22 years, said: “I am in favour [of safe standing] personally.
“I think the atmosphere is much better when people stand.”
In 2017 the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, which promotes the interests of supporters, surveyed 7,329 people and found 96 per cent backed “safe standing” in the stadium.
Mike Francis, 49, a season ticket holder in the West Stand, founded the popular fanzine The Gooner in 1987, which he edited until 2000.
“I think there is definitely room for safe standing,” he said. “I was brought up standing on the terraces [at Arsenal’s former Highbury Stadium] but I’m not sure I miss it any more – I’m just too old.
“I was at Blackpool last week, I don’t often get to away games anymore, but at most you’re forced to stand. It hurt my back. But people younger and fitter than me should be able to do it.
“I remember the game against Everton in 88. It was the second leg [of a League Cup semi-final] and the atmosphere in the North Bank was electric for the whole 90 minutes. You just don’t get that anymore.
“The Emirates has luxurious seats and you could get four people standing where three people would sit, so more fans could go and the club could sell more tickets.”
He added: “Clubs seem to me to be reticent to push the government on it and use existing legislature as an excuse [not to fight for safe standing], so it’s great there’s some movement on it.”
An Arsenal spokesperson said: “The Premier League is looking into the viability of allowing standing in stadiums.
“We now need to wait to see what the conclusions are.”
View the petition here.