Stadium devolution in Wales could open the door to safe standing at football matches
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Stadium devolution in Wales could open the door to safe standing at football matches

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The Welsh Conservative Party has sent a formal letter to sports minister Tracey Crouch to request the devolution of responsibility for sports ground safety management to the Welsh Assembly.

Party leader Andrew RT Davies is leading the campaign in a bid to trigger a safe standing pilot for football clubs in Wales. In 2014 the politician commissioned a survey of UK supporters in which 96 per cent backed a return to standing areas.

“This isn’t about revolution, it’s about common sense and fairness, and we would commission the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) to continue to perform the sterling work it does,” said Davies.

“But the transfer of this power is necessary to enable us to press on with a pilot in Wales; a pilot that would address the concerns of sceptics and build a case for a wider roll-out throughout the UK of limited areas, akin to those routinely available in stadiums across the continent.”

Under the proposals put forward by the Welsh Conservatives, the SGSA would continue to monitor safety at grounds. Davies has discussed safe standing with Crouch previously, but has now sent a formal correspondence to ask for the transfer of powers.

However, Sports Management understands that the government is unlikely to make a decision on safe standing until the Home Office’s Hillsborough Inquiry is complete, as well as the outcome of the trial being launched by Celtic Football Club in Scotland.

In June, Celtic was given the green light to construct rail seating to accommodate 2,600 fans, with the trial potentially coinciding with the beginning of the 2016/17 season.

Conducting a safe standing trial in Wales alone may encounter complications as its two largest professional football teams – Swansea City and Cardiff City – compete in predominantly English leagues.

Jon Darch, director of the Safe Standing Roadshow said the devolution of power to the Welsh Assembly would be a “major step forward in achieving the objective of a safe standing pilot in Wales”.

“There now seems to be an irresistible demand for a safe standing pilot to be run in Wales and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) hopes that progress can be made,” added FSF safe standing co-ordinator Peter Daykin.

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The Welsh Conservative Party has sent a formal letter to sports minister Tracey Crouch to request the devolution of responsibility for sports ground safety management to the Welsh Assembly.
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