West Brom have had an application to introduce safe standing at The Hawthorns rejected by the government.
The pilot scheme would have meant 3,600 seats in the Smethwick End being converted to ‘rail seats’, which can be locked in an upright position.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch has ruled out the idea and confirmed there are no plans to change the existing all-seater policy at UK football stadiums.
West Brom say their proposal was based on safety concerns, because of persistent standing.
The club’s director of operations Mark Miles, who has led the proposal, described the decision as “surprising” and “disappointing”.
“I think the minister has taken a short-sighted view and is preventing the club from creating a safer environment for supporters,” he said.
“The all-seater policy was developed over 25 years ago and football is a very different place now.”
Miles has travelled to Scottish champions Celtic and German club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, where the same system is used.
“The system we proposed is well tested across Europe and has also worked successfully at Celtic, who are governed by different legislation than in England and Wales,” he said.
“We were prepared to run a pilot which would enable the club to gather data and feedback to further inform us in the issue of crowd safety.
“But I have become convinced that rail seating would enhance safety. The club is extremely disappointed with this decision and we have written back requesting a review.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We have no plans to change our position and introduce standing accommodation at grounds in the top two divisions covered by the all-seater policy.
“Alongside the sports ground safety authority we will continue to monitor the issue of spectator accommodation and the use of safe standing where it is permitted.”
Take a look at how the football world reacted on the next page.
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