Celtic to introduce safe standing area with rail seating

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell with the kind of rail seating which will be introduced

Celtic have been granted permission to introduce a safe standing area and could become the first top-flight club in Scotland to do so.

The rail seating area will initially accommodate up to 2,600 supporters and be introduced for the 2016-17 season.

Chief executive Peter Lawwell saidexternal-link: "Celtic has worked tirelessly on this issue."

Scotland is not bound by the law that banned standing areas in top-flight football in England.

Terraces were banned following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 and the issue about whether to allow some standing areas has been revisited since all-seater stadiums became compulsory in England in 1994.

Prior to the merger of the Scottish Premier League with the Scottish Football League to form the Scottish Professional Football League, top-flight clubs were given the all clear to have safe-standing areas within their stadiums.

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson announced in February that he planned to invest £200,000 to help United become the first Premiership club to do so.

However, Celtic were on Tuesday given permission for their plan by Glasgow City Council, which had twice previously rejected applications from the Scottish champions.

Celtic Park
Celtic Park have had previous applications rejected by Glasgow City Council

"Across football globally, the reality is that some supporters are choosing to stand at matches," said Lawwell.

"Rail seating has been in place in European football for some time and there has been considerable demand for some form of safe standing within the UK and particularly from our supporters."

Celtic, who say they have been working on the plan for five years, will consult with their fans before any changes but are confident that it will prove popular.

Independent safety and security expert Dr. Steve Frosdick told Celtic's website: "For the first time in the UK, football fans will be able to stand to watch the game from purpose-built accommodation which is demonstrably safe.

"Glasgow City Council and the emergency services are also to be commended, firstly for their rigorous scrutiny of the proposal and secondly for having the courage to grant the first approval.

"There was of course no question of going back to the standing terraces of old.

"However, the new style rail seating found in Germany and Austria provides the solution the club was seeking."

A council spokesman added: "Previously it was felt that a stewarding plan alone would not ensure spectator safety in the standing area.

"But the introduction of appropriate barriers, widened gangways, along with the kind of rail seating often found in European grounds and other measures, will address those concerns."