With the Hillsborough disaster still etched painfully into the hearts and minds of many on Merseyside, Evertonians have always felt a duty of care when it comes to discussing safe standing at football.
The dynamic shifted in 2017, when a survey conducted by the Spirit of Shankly Liverpool fan organisation said 88 per cent of Reds fans from a pool of 18,000 said they’d be in favour of safe standing being implemented. That result felt like a mandate for plenty on Merseyside, both red and blue, to accelerate talk about the initiative.
With that considered, it’s not a shock to read reports that Everton are seeking to introduce rail seating at Bramley-Moore dock, where their new stadium is expected to be built in the coming years.
It feels like a positive move and one that’ll future-proof any new venue when it’s eventually built. Of course, that’ll be subject to any change in match-going regulations before the stadium opens that permits the rail seating.
The Toffees are clearly keen on recapturing the unique Goodison Park atmosphere at any new home and giving supporters the chance to stand in comfort behind each goal can be a catalyst for that.
The “safe” aspect is key too. As a Gwladys Street season-ticket holder—the liveliest part of Goodison—and an away game regular, it’s rare for me to be sat down at a football match at all.
When an important goal is scored, it’s a shock if you don’t have some token of the subsequent wild celebrations, whether that be a shin bruise from the seat in front of you or a cut from someone falling over the top of you from a row behind.
As long as the debate around safe standing continues to be positive, progressive and mindful of what’s happened previously, it’d be terrific to see Everton at the forefront of the conversation.
Matt Jones is a broadcaster and journalist who hosts the Blue Room Podcast, talking all things Everton. You can follow him on Twitter at @MattJFootball.
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