Safe standing: League One side Shrewsbury Town first in England to apply for rail seats

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Richard Conway explains Shrewsbury Town's plans for safe standing

League One side Shrewsbury Town have become the first English club to apply to have safe standing at their ground.

The club aims to have the rail seats fitted and in use, in a section of one stand, before the end of 2017-18.

Shrewsbury's Greenhous Meadow is 10 years old so is not governed by the all-seater stadiums legislation which permits clubs in Leagues One and Two to keep terraces that existed before 1994.

Standing has been banned in England's top two divisions since then.

That law change followed recommendations made in the Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

Last November, Hillsborough Support Group secretary Sue Roberts told BBC Sport it would be a "backwards step" to bring back standing.

Earlier this month, West Bromwich Albion said they were willing to use The Hawthorns as part of the pilot scheme for safe standing - though a change in the law would be needed before that could come to fruition.

Celtic opened a 2,900-capacity section last year after the Scottish champions were granted a safe-standing licence by Glasgow City Council.

Brian Caldwell, Shrewsbury Town's chief executive, says the move at Celtic has improved the atmosphere and he expects the same for his club.

"More people are encouraged to sing and get behind the team but also it's a safer environment as well," he told BBC Sport.

"Our safety officer has been up to Celtic to see it in action and was very, very pleased with how safe and secure it was."

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Celtic's safe standing: how does it work?

The club, which finished 20th in League One in the 2016-17 season, hopes to raise the £50-75,000 required to finance the project through a crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign will be run jointly by the Shrewsbury Town Supporters' Parliament, who first approached the club with the proposal, and the Football Supporters' Federation.

They will invite donations from fans and the public in return for 'rewards' from the club.

Mike Davis, from the Supporters' Parliament, says it will help Shrewsbury Town compete with other sides in League One.

"The issue we tend to have is when we come up against the big clubs - the Sheffield Uniteds, the Boltons - who bring huge away crowds, we get drowned out a little bit," he said.

"So the hope is that bringing our vocal support behind the stand will improve that.

"Some of our fans already stand but they want an area where they can do that safely and also we want to be able to improve the atmosphere within the ground."

The application has been put to the Sports Ground Safety Authority and Shrewsbury say they hope to find out the outcome in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

The club's initial aim is to raise sufficient funds to purchase and install around 400 rail seats but if the target is missed, a smaller safe standing area will be created.

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