Scottish Football Stands Up.

Its not easy being a fan of Scottish football. Those long, harsh winters, with only a half-time Bovril providing any relief from the cold. It’s little wonder that in the years since all-seater stadiums have been introduced north of the border, attendances at matches have dwindled year-on-year. With so many games shown live on television, soaring prices and ever increasing laws and restrictions placed on supporters, the lot of a live football fan in Scotland isn’t an easy one.

However, while most Scottish football fans have acted with their feet and stayed at home, others did so by insisting on standing up. Celtic’s ‘Ultras’ group The Green Brigade were among the first home supporters to decide to stand en-masse. Although it’s a given at most grounds across Scotland that away fans are always on their feet. This created a dilemma for the powers of Scottish football, as standing in seated sections provides it’s own safety concerns.

Speaking with fans and shareholders in the rather more opulent surroundings of the city’s Luxury hotels Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers announced at their respective AGM’s that they would each look into the feasibility of ‘safe standing’ areas within their stadiums. Both stadiums were re-designed during the post-Hillsborough era of all-seater stadiums. However, with television money being comparatively low in Scotland, clubs still rely heavily on numbers through the turnstiles. It would appear that fan-power for once, had won out.

Where Scotland’s ‘big two’ lead the rest of Scottish football usually fall into line. So as Celtic announced their investigation into safe-standing, SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster subsequently followed suit on the 19 December 2011 by announcing the league’s governing body would drop it’s objection to standing areas at Scottish stadiums. Although, this still wouldn’t mean a return to the old style, free-standing terracing, which birthed to so much of football’s soul. Standing rails, as seen in German stadiums are seen to be the preferred option.

The question still remains whether every ground will take up the option and follow the Old Firm’s lead. Once again fan power could have a deciding part to play. However, some chairman of the SPL’s other ten clubs have come out firmly against the proposal. Aberdeen have just had planning applications for a new stadium approved by it’s local authority, which include a community sports complex, restaurants and even traditional Scottish highland hotels. A proposed standing area could push development back even further down the beurocratic pole. While Hibernian and St Mirren have both made expensive investments into new seated areas.

There are certain aspects lost to football with all-seater stadiums. Fans want the option to be able to buy tickets separately while going to the game together. Not to mention how difficult it is to scream, shout and carry on while your seated down – Its obvious that supporters are more engaged with each other and with the football when standing. While the bottom line for Scotland’s football future is that it’s simply warmer for spectators to stand up. The last obstacle for supporters and clubs to overcome in regards to safe-standing are the police and local authorities. Applications can start as early as next season.

March 1, 2012 | Author: | Posted in Hotels


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