Manchester United have been granted permission to trial a safe standing section at Old Trafford for 1,500 fans in the north east quadrant of the stadium.
United’s application to the local council for a safe standing area, which will make use of barrier-style seating to give standing supporters a solid structure to lean on, was the result of several years’ worth of consultations with Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and the Fans’ Forum.
United can now begin to explore installation options with suppliers and also discuss necessary amendments that will need to be made to the club’s license.
However, with the timing of the announcement at a time when no football is being played as a result of the coronavirus crisis, it has been made clear that public health, as well as adhering to all government guidelines regarding social distancing remains the priority.
“It should be stated, up front, that our overwhelming priority is to keep our people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic,” managing director Richard Arnold said in a statement on the club’s official website.
“It may seem strange to talk about stadium plans at this time, but football and our fans will return when it is safe, and our preparations for that must continue in the background.
“Our belief is that the introduction of barrier seats will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing.
“It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy. If the trial is successful, we may consider further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium.”
Renovation work on Old Trafford to update the stadium, including the challenging expansion of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand to the south where a railway line passes in close proximity, has previously been estimated at a potential cost of £200m or more.
Source : 90min