BY ALAN TEMPLE – CAPITAL CITY PRESS
Paul Goodwin, of the Scottish Football Supporters Association, has hailed Celtic’s green light to introduce safe standing at Parkhead as a “massive step forward” for fans in Scotland.
After several years of negotiations with the football authorities and Glasgow City Council, the Hoops have finally been given the go ahead to create a standing section to accommodate 2,600 spectators.
The area is set to be introduced in time for the start of the 2016/17 campaign and represents a major triumph for supporters, who have clamoured for the club to follow in the footsteps of their counter-parts in Austria and Germany.
Goodwin believes this is just the beginning, and reckons Rangers and the Scottish national football and rugby sides could be tempted to follow suit if Celtic’s section proves successful.
He said: “This is a massive step forward and one we have been advocating for a long time. We have seen how viable it is in Germany and during trials in England at clubs like Bristol City.
“I think it is something fans have an appetite for as a new way to improve atmosphere within the stadiums. It could also prove financially beneficial for the bigger games, by virtue of being able to get more fans into a standing section.
“In terms of the smaller clubs in Scotland, it would be a challenge to introduce this across the board, however I don’t see any reason why the bigger stadiums should not be looking to follow suit.
“This could be at Ibrox, Hampden Park and, looking at other sports, why not Murrayfield? It is an exciting opportunity and I think the fans will love it.”
Goodwin, whose fans’ group has almost 20,000 members, acknowledges that the vast majority of Scottish football clubs would be unable to afford the costly conversion to railed safe standing sections.
However, he is hopeful clubs continue to welcome ‘singing sections’ within stadiums to replicate the experience and improve the atmosphere in grounds around the country.
Goodwin continued: “It should not stop here. For clubs who cannot consider renovating their stadiums to put in railed sections, there should still be sensible policing and a desire to create an enjoyable matchday experience.
“At the club I support, Partick Thistle, and at Hibs there are sections where fans are largely allowed to stand up. We want to support the fans that say they want to create a vibrant, colourful, noisy atmosphere.
“As long as it is safe, that should be allowed to happen. Standing, singing, dancing, shouting are the things which drive the atmosphere.”