Hull City want standing terrace at KC Stadium
HULL City have opened talks with supporters about the introduction of a standing terrace at the KC Stadium.
The Tigers' joint owner and vice-chairman Ehab Allam has revealed he is in favour of the plan, insisting the stadium should be a place "for every type of fan".
The Hull City Official Supporters' Club says in light of recent revelations concerning the Hillsborough disaster cover-up, it is also backing "safe-standing" areas, similar to those at the German Bundesliga grounds.
Mr Allam said: "It is definitely something we are supportive of and we are talking to Hull City Official Supporters' Club.
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"We believe there should be a place for every type of fan at the KC Stadium."
Following Lord Justice Taylor's report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives, grounds were required to become all-seater stadiums by 1994.
But, in light of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's damning report, there are growing calls to look again at bringing back standing terraces.
Chris Smith, of the Hull City Official Supporters' Club, is pushing for the Tigers to trial the European model in a section of the KC Stadium.
Mr Smith, who was present at the FA Cup semi-final 23 years ago and witnessed the full horror of the disaster, said: "We sanitised our football grounds in light of the Taylor Report.
"But having read the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, it is clear standing terraces did not cause the disaster."
Over 18 months, the panel examined 400,000 pages of documents from more than 80 organisations.
The panel revealed scores of witness statements had been doctored by South Yorkshire Police.
Mr Smith said: "It was the fencing, keeping fans caged like animals, and the policing that caused the Hillsborough disaster."
He believes the match day experience would be improved significantly if fans were allowed to stand and cheer their side.
"During some matches, we have a problem with lack of atmosphere," said Mr Smith.
"It can sometimes feel like a library at the KC.
"We feel safe, standing terraces would go some way to improving the atmosphere.
"There is definitely support from Hull City for a trial of a standing area."
In February, the Football Supporters' Federation took its Safe Standing Roadshow along to the KC Stadium.
Supporters saw an example of so-called "rail seating" – seats attached to a rail that can be folded away to create a safe terrace – similar to those used in Germany.
Mr Smith said: "It was extremely popular with fans.
"The rails will prevent a surge of people and simply telling fans they will be banned and fined if they go onto the pitch, as is the case now, will limit problems."
However, for Hull City and other clubs that have expressed an interest in returning to standing terraces, such as Aston Villa, a new Government directive would be needed.
Mr Smith believes safe-standing terracing could be the perfect solution for both the club and its Egyptian owners. In October last year, Mr Allam and his father Assem scrapped plans to expand the capacity of the KC Stadium and build a sports complex next to it after owners Hull City Council refused to give up its freehold.
Mr Smith said: "For every rail seat, when locked away, there is space for 1.8 persons, so this could be the ideal way for the owners to expand the capacity of the ground at minimal cost."
Earlier this year, Don Foster, MP for Bath, put forward the Safe-Standing (Football Stadia) Bill.
However, due to time restraints, the Private Members' Bill failed to get past the second reading stage in the House of Commons.
Mr Foster, now a Government minister and so unable to put forward future Bills, told the Mail: "We have a number of clubs showing real interest in safe-standing terraces.
"No one is talking about a return to the old-style, 1980s-era terraces.
"At the time of the Taylor Report the technology around today did not exist, so the only safe option was to make grounds comply with the all-seating model."
Mr Allam added the Tigers would need to discuss details of any piloting of safe-standing areas with the city council.
He said: "We would have to be mindful of the fact that the club does not own the stadium.
"Before we did anything, we would have to go to Hull City Council."
A council spokesman said: "The current Government legislation states that all clubs in the Premier League and Championship should provide seated accommodation."
A Football Association spokesman said: "The FA is aware some clubs are looking at possible safe-standing areas in 'low-risk' sections of their stadiums.
"It seems that Hull are researching this, too."
It is understood the Football Supporters' Federation plans to deliver a presentation on rail seating to MPs before Christmas.
The KC Stadium, which cost £44m to build, replaced Boothferry Park in 2002. It is currently has a maximum capacity of 25,404.