After the last game of the 1993/94 season, the Kop was forever changed, becoming the 12,390 seater stand that we know (and still love) today. The seats were the result of the 1989 Football Spectators’ Act, which outlawed standing in England’s top two divisions. The act, of course, was the result of the horrific scenes at Hillsborough Stadium, from which 96 Liverpool supporters never returned.
The Kop has had seating ever since, though, that has not stopped supporters from standing. Football is an emotional game, and for the most emotional and passionate supporters, standing—whether in a moment of sheer delight, or for a full 90 minutes to cheer on the team—is a part of fandom that cannot be easily cut out with a piece of legislation. And for many supporters, the seats merely create “unsafe” standing, creating dangerous situations and obstacles, especially during goal celebrations.
In recent months, buoyed by the successes at Celtic and in the Bundesliga of “safe standing” (or “rail seating”), momentum has been building in England to bring standing back to the Premier League. As the name suggests, this style of standing section is different from the open terraces of the 80’s, and have been popular where implemented.
As the fan base with the tragic distinction of Hillsborough in our history, Liverpool fan organizations have been quick to take up the mantle, and debate the issue. The response from Liverpool has been overwhelmingly positive, with the Spirit of Shankly running a week-long poll, which resulted in 88% of members supporting the introduction of safe standing. Moreover, Celtic recently invited Liverpool supporters to see rail seating in action, to help allay reasonable fears, given the history.
Though, as we all know, Hillsborough was not caused by standing, but rather by poor policing, antiquated and ill-equipped stadiums, and widespread and criminal negligence.
After resisting earlier pressure to debate the issue, and flatly rejecting a plan by West Brom to move to rail seating, Parliament must now take it up after a petition cleared 100,000 signatures. It will be debated on June 25th, though it is unclear how much support it has from Tory wankers who refuse to be swayed by little things such as facts.