Manchester City have announced they will install more than 5,500 rail seats at the Etihad Stadium. The seats, which are designed to lock into a folded position and give fans space to stand, are due to be installed over the summer in the lower tier of the South Stand, the club said.
Standing at grounds in England’s top two tiers is banned but clubs have prepared for what they will hope will be the go-ahead for safe standing, with Wolverhampton Wanderers installing rail seats at Molineux. Manchester United, who have experienced long-running problems with fans refusing to sit down, are in the process of erecting 1,500 at Old Trafford, and Tottenham have seats designed to be converted for standing.
City said their move to install 5,620 rail seats followed extensive research and that it would “enhance safety in an area where persistent standing occurs”.
“Whilst we will continue to remind supporters they should remain seated during matches, we are also pleased to inform them that the installation of a rail seating area means the Etihad Stadium will be ready … should the government bring forward legislation to introduce safe standing in the Premier League,” City’s managing director of operations, Danny Wilson, said.
Standing was banned in the top two divisions in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster that resulted in the death of 96 Liverpool fans.
City noted that “there is no indication as to when a change in legislation may occur”. Safe standing across English football appeared to come a step closer last year after an interim report by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority found it had “a positive impact on spectator safety”.