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Safe Standing at Top Flight Football Takes a Step Closer

Posted: Thu, 07 Jun 2018 22:29

We don't usually cover much about football here at the Sports Think Tank despite its dominance of the sports political landscape. We just feel it gets plenty of attention at the expense of the rest of sport and other sites and organisations make a valuable contribution to the debate and we can't add much more!

However, today the various football stories that have an impact on sport policy have been landing on our desks. We couldn't help taking an interesting look at the Report by Deloite into top flight finances in European Football now worth a record £22bn according to the research

Later in the afternoon the Premier League Chief Richard Scudamore announced he was going to step down largely taking the sector by surprise, I think we will have far more to say about his influence on the sport - both its financial success at the Premier League and its impact on the wider game. You can tell from the muted responses so far that there is a begrudging acceptance of his commercial success on driving up revenues but a leas than enthusiastic response to the impact that has had on the grassroots and the performance of the England team. We will return to this one!

But finally this evening we learned that the Shadow Sports Minister had announced that the Labour Party would support the return of Safe Standing at top flight football grounds.

We have covered the topic on this website with a recent blog. But we are just as interested in how this issue caught DCMS and the Minister off-guard. As the story develops over the next couple of days we will look into this in more detail.

In policy making terms we can see how this has happened. The DCMS have a long standing policy position and every time the issue is raised in PQs, Questions, Letters and campaigns the 'position' is maintained. It has stood the test of time with various ministers who have not been keen to make a political decision and seriously review or act against the constant advice from the officials and Sports Ground Safety Authority. After all this is why it exists.

But now with online campaigning - the fans able to generate a parliamentary debate with 100k signatures and some more effective lobbying the campaign has moved quickly from a from a fringe issue into the mainstream and has generated a great deal of momentum. At last this week the Minister announced a review and the end of opposition to safe Standing seemed to be starting to crumble. The pressure from the Labour Party today may well speed up the issue. Clearly Labour is not in power so this will still need to be reviewed properly and decision will take some time. But legislation is not required so when and if Ministers decide to act it shouldn't take too long to implement.

So for once Football has dominated our inbox for a day. And for once we've enjoyed being involved.

Tags: Sports Policy, DCMS, Featured