Under current legislation, football clubs who compete in the Premier League and Championship (the top two tiers of English football) are prevented from having any standing areas at their grounds; they are required to be all-seater.

As a result, safe-standing is not legal for the 44 clubs who compete in the Premier League and Championship.

This article looks at why this law is in place, what the legislation says, and the two Championship clubs who still have terracing at their stadiums.

Pirelli Stadium, Burton. Credit: Burton Albion FC.
Pirelli Stadium, Burton. Credit: Burton Albion FC.

The History

Following the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster on April 15th 1989, where 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives during an FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest, Lord Justice Taylor oversaw an inquiry into the causes of the disaster and made recommendations to prevent such tragedies happening again at sporting events.

Lord Taylor’s Report recommended that all grounds in the old First and Second Divisions of the Football League (now Premier League and EFL Championship) should be all-seated by August 1994. This was brought into law by the 1989 Football Spectators Act, which contained a regulation requiring football grounds to become all-seated as directed by the Secretary of State. This was to be overseen by the Football Licensing Authority (now the Sport Grounds Safety Authority).

In July 1992, the British Government announced a relaxation of the regulation for the lower two English leagues (known now as League One and League Two), meaning the legislation is only applicable to football clubs competing in the Premier League and Championship and also to the national stadiums of England and Wales; Wembley and the Millennium Stadium.

The Legislation

Section 11 of the Football Spectators Act 1989 states: “The Secretary of State may, by order, direct the licensing authority to include in any licence to admit spectators to any specified premises a condition imposing requirements as respects the seating of spectators at designated football matches at the premises; and it shall be the duty of the authority to comply with the direction.”

Exceptions to the Law

Of the 44 clubs in the Premier League and Championship, Burton Albion and Brentford are the only two grounds with terraced standing. Clubs promoted to the Championship for the first time have three years to convert their ground to all-seater and Burton are currently in their second Championship season, so have not been required to change their ground to all-seater yet.

Ealing Road, Griffin Park – 2017. Credit: Football Tripper.

Brentford are now in their 4th Championship season, but are in the process of building a new stadium which is set to open in two years time. Because of this, Brentford have been allowed special dispensation to continue with terracing until they move to their new stadium.

-Click to hear more from Brentford’s Chief Executive, Mark Devlin, about why they are allowed to operate in the Championship with terraced standing.