England: Old Trafford expands safe standing zones ahead of season

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola

England: Old Trafford expands safe standing zones ahead of season Manchester United were one of five Premier League clubs to take part in a pilot programme to reintroduce standing areas to English stadiums from 2022. Following successful safety trials, standing sections will be expanded from the new season at the 'Theatre of Dreams'.


More standing areas at English stadiums

Halfway through the 2021/22 league season, five clubs from the top two English leagues were granted permission by the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) to take part in trials to reintroduce standing sections in their stadiums. They were Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham from the Premier League and Cardiff City from the Championship. Standing areas had been banned for the top leagues since the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.

Attempts to reintroduce standing sectors were successful and, ahead of the start of the 2022/23 season, former UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston approved a wider implementation of the plan. Now all clubs playing in the Premier League and Championship were eligible to apply for a licence for safe standing areas. The five mentioned have been joined by Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brentford, and this solution will be trialled at Newcastle United's home ground, St. James' Park, in the coming season. For the start of the new Premier League, more standing room will be offered at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford© Adam Koprowski

'Theatre of Dreams' will offer more safe standing sections

Fans visiting Old Trafford from the start of 2022 have had the chance to use rail seats to allow them to get up from their seats safely. 1,500 such seating was located in the north-east corner and 2,500 in the visitor section. Now Manchester United will add 2,100 new safe standing seats, the installation of which will bring the total number of rail seats to more than 6,000. This has been made possible after the club received a licence from the SGSA to continue offering safe standing after an initial trial period.

The additional seats with rails will be located in the south-west corner of the stadium, adjacent to the Stretford End. Installation is expected to be complete before the first home Premier League game of the 2023-24 season against Wolverhampton Wanderers scheduled for Monday August 14.

The introduction of licensed standing areas follows research showing that rail seating helps reduce the risk of accidents compared to standing in seated sections. Six other Premier League clubs - Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Brentford and Chelsea - are applying for a licence to increase the number of seats with rails in their stadiums.

You can watch an overview of all the Premier League stadiums of the 2023/24 season in a video on our YouTube channel: