Evaluation of ‘early adopters’ of licensed standing areas in football stadia: Interim findings summary

In January 2022, CFE Research commenced an evaluation of ‘early adopters’ of licensed standing areas in five football grounds, commissioned by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. The findings of the research will be provided to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to inform its decisions about the potential wider roll-out of licensed standing.

The following provides an overview of some of the key findings from the research so far.  Please note, the research is ongoing and as such these are emerging findings only.

  1. Installing barriers or rails in areas of persistent standing in seated accommodation continues to have a positive impact on spectator safety. This is in line with the findings of the 2019-20 study conducted by CFE Research, The Safe Management of Persistent Standing in Seated Areas.

 

  1. A number of positive impacts of installing barriers or rails have been identified, consistent with the previous research conducted:
  • Goal celebrations are more orderly
  • Egress is more uniform
  • Pockets of overcrowding can be easier to spot
  • Barriers offer stability for people moving up and down aisles and gangways
  • Customer service is enhanced by responding to spectators’ preferences for seating or standing.

 

  1. Operating licensed standing areas has the additional benefit of removing the requirement for safety staff to encourage spectators to sit down, reducing the risk of conflict between staff and spectators.

 

  1. There is no evidence to date that the introduction of licensed standing areas has led to an increase in standing elsewhere in the stadia, but neither has it eradicated it. It will be important to monitor this as any increase (or decrease) in standing in seated areas is likely to emerge over time.

 

  1. The research has identified a number of learning opportunities for clubs. CFE will continue to explore how early adopter clubs are dealing with these issues over the remainder of the research, including:
  • Assessing the level of demand for standing accommodation to ensure sufficient supply and mitigate the risk of persistent standing elsewhere;
  • Responding to this with ticketing strategies for both home and away supporters; and
  • Meeting the demand for standing tickets from families with children.

 

  1. Blocking of aisles and gangways, climbing on infrastructure, and the problematic behaviour of supporters remain risks associated with standing, but none of these are reported to have increased as a result of the introduction of licensed standing areas.

Interim findings summary (PDF)