On the 25th June I travelled to Hannover in Germany to visit the city’s Bundesliga football club Hannover 96. The object of the visit was to see firsthand and understand the ‘rail seat’ system which is used extensively throughout Germany where supporters have the choice of whether to sit or stand. I was accompanied by Adi Mowles, Richard Hodgson and Kevin Dawkins (both representatives of Peterborough City Council). The visit was arranged by Jon Darch on behalf of the Football Supporters Federation who have initiated the ‘Safe Standing’ campaign.
As most of our supporters will be aware, at the end of season 2012-2013 (subject to Championship status) we will no longer be able to have ‘Terraced’ ends, current regulations decree that seated accommodation must be installed or the stands will be closed.
The overriding factor in the debate on seating/standing for myself is the safety of our guests, be they home or away supporters or just visiting London Road looking for a goal-fest!
As a frequent visitor to grounds throughout the Football League and Premiership in this country and luckily, across most of Europe, my view is that it would be far safer to stand in a rail seat fitted terrace than stand in a traditional seated area. Now whilst we understand that current regulations insist that supporters should sit down to watch the game, the reality is that standing in certain seated areas has become the ‘norm’ at football matches in this country. Therefore, the visit to Hannover to see how we can better protect and engage our visitors to the Posh.
The trip confirmed all my initial understanding of the rail-seat potential, our existing terraces are safe and well managed, but as of the summer they will be deemed unsafe. That’s unless, heaven forbid, we went down, in which case they would bizarrely be deemed still safe to use. Having seen a new option in Hannover, I am convinced that a standing area fitted with rail seats would be even safer still and I cannot see any logical reason why we should not be allowed to build a new London Road End incorporating such an area. I therefore fully support the FSF’s safe standing campaign and hope that together we can persuade the powers that be to look seriously at the rail seat option. If they wanted to use London Road as a pilot site, we’d be more than happy to oblige!”