EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has today outlined a potential route forward in the ongoing debate as to whether or not to allow the reintroduction of licensed standing areas to any stadium in the EFL.
There will be 22 EFL clubs across the three EFL divisions offering licensed standing areas to supporters in 2018/19, and yet those clubs subject to the all-seater requirement are prevented from doing so.
Supporters have been clear in calling for a change to the legislation in recent weeks, with 94 per cent of football fans believing they should have the option to choose the type of matchday experience they want - whether that be seated or standing in safe, licensed areas of grounds.
Now, ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on Monday 25 June, EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has put forward his view on how any future changes could be implemented.
He said: “This is not a safety debate. It is a fans’ debate and it’s about giving supporters a choice.
“We believe that the all-seater requirement should be removed for Championship clubs, and ultimately that the decision of whether a club should utilise a standing area should be made between a club and its local Safety Advisory Group.
“We believe this is a sensible way forward on the basis that trying to shoehorn everyone into a one size fits all debate will never lead to the best decisions being made up and down the country.
“We have local advisory groups who know their stadiums far better than anyone else and will be able to make the informed, correct decisions that suit not only the existing fabric of the stadium, but also take into account each individual club’s fan base.
“So, the appeal to government is to create a framework for this to be allowed, and then for decisions to be made on a local basis.”
Equally as important as localising the issue, the EFL CEO has also given a clear indication on a second aspect of a proposed solution by outlining the scale of standing areas that could be introduced into English football stadiums, as well as the timescales of when the EFL would like to see developments progress.
He added: “I don’t think anybody wants to see a return to the days of mass-standing in terraces of 20,000 people or more. We have done our own analysis and we believe any single standing area should have no more than 7,500 supporters in it.”
He continued: “I would be disappointed if we have not come to a decision by this time next year and it is realistic to think we could have standing in the top two leagues by the 2020-21 season. The EFL is committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with government to deliver what the fans want.”