Manchester United begin the installation of 1,500 rail seats at Old Trafford
According to Manchester Evening News, Manchester United have started the installation of 1500 rail seats at Old Trafford ahead of the 2021/2 English football season.
The new facility will be used on a trial basis during the upcoming season. Rail seating will allow supporters to stand against a barrier whilst watching games in the hope that this would improve safety in the area where there is persistent standing.
Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers have already installed the facility at their stadiums. The seating will be located in the North East Quadrant of Old Trafford. (h/t Daily Mail)
In the fans’ forum meeting on April 16, United confirmed that they would have the rail seats installed this summer. That certainly appears to be the case. United have insisted that the addition of the new seats will improve safety. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The section will include seats but they will have a safety rail behind them. They are designed to allow for safe standing during goal celebrations and at other key moments. All-seater stadiums remain compulsory in the Premier League and have been since 1994/95 following the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
Managing Director Richard Arnold admitted earlier this year that the facility could be extended to more areas of the Theatre of Dreams, pending how the trial goes. He also went on to add that the efforts are in line with plans to future proof the stadium.
“If the trial is successful, we may consider further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium.”
The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) compiled a report on their season-long study on the safety risks of standing in stadiums. The findings revealed that the installation of barriers in seated areas at football grounds ‘mitigated the risk of crowd collapse’. (h/t Daily Mail)
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A number of difficult lessons were learned following the Hillsborough disaster, echoes of which resonate to this day. To see the club make a decision taking into consideration the safety of the spectators is a welcome move.