I have to confess to standing for a short time at the Domzale game when the chant of “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” rang out. I don’t particularly like Tottenham but that was not the reason I stood. We were attacking at the time, and as the people in front of me stood, some looking back towards the main body of the crowd with their arms aloft and not watching the game, I actually wanted to see what was happening.
I can see the problems escalating. Tensions were running high. What is the solution? As I see it, it can go different ways. We are not the only ground where there are these issues. In an ideal world perhaps the club could try to initiate a dialogue with other clubs to push for the introduction of safe standing areas? Standing in front of allocated seats should not be a problem if everyone in a particular section knows it is a designated standing area. That way the fans who believe atmosphere can only be created by standing can be appeased. But if you read up on attempts for this to happen, joint statements of safety authorities, the police and the football authorities, then quite clearly it is a non-starter. There are lengthy documents which set out reasons why this will not happen.
So where do we go next? Apparently the stewards went around taking the seat numbers of those people persistently standing. Are the occupants going to receive threatening letters from the club or face bans? This might seem particularly harsh for fans who are standing but don’t really want to but it’s their only option if they want to see the game.
I have other questions in my mind. Those people who sit down may stand at half-time to stretch their legs. We then have a whole stadium full of people standing. Unless of course those that stand revert to sitting down at half-time? Before the game, at half time and at the end of a game most people are standing. Why is it only a safety issue when play is in progress? Why are the authorities happy to grant a safety certificate for 57,000 but not 60,000? Are the people who issue the safety certificates the same ones that did the job at Upton Park where no action was taken on standing?
I don’t know the answers but little is solved by the conflict being continued on social media with some particularly unpleasant name calling on both sides. I wonder if the club are perhaps ultra-sensitive because we are not the owners of the ground, but merely tenants? Perhaps there are penalties in the small print in the terms of the lease? You can never please everyone but I hope that a solution can be found to satisfy the vast majority, so we can get on with enjoying the football in this marvellous new stadium. But I have a feeling that this one will run for some time yet.