Liverpool fans have 'emotive and sensitive' safe standing debate

By Alex BysouthBBC Sport
Celtic's safe standing: how does it work?

Liverpool supporters had an "emotive and sensitive" debate on the issue of safe standing during a meeting hosted by fans' group Spirit of Shankly (SOS).

The club said their fans' position on safe standing is "uniquely complex and difficult", because of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 fans died.

SOS chair Jay McKenna said Saturday's open meeting was a "significant" process in letting fans have their say.

It will now hold an open online vote to clarify its stance on the matter.

"Lots of people raised questions and concerns and shared their own experiences," McKenna told BBC Sport.

"It was a very good debate. It was emotive and sensitive at times. It was really useful and people said they felt much more informed."

Last week, McKenna told BBC Sport the impact of the Hillsborough disaster might have left fans "behind the curve" in the debate about reintroducing standing.

The requirement for all-seater stadiums in England's top flight came in response to 96 fans being killed at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

The club said they would "listen" to fans' viewsexternal-link if legislation requiring all-seater stadiums was ever changed.

But McKenna said it was "too difficult" to tell whether fans would vote for or against safe standing from Saturday's meeting.

Celtic representatives present at fans' meeting

Government legislation would need to change for safe standing to be introduced.

The Premier League wrote to its 20 clubs last month to assess whether they would be interested in a trial to re-introduce standing areas, which were banned in 1994.

West Bromwich Albion have said they would be willing to use The Hawthorns as part of a pilot scheme for safe standing.

SOS has discussed the issue with members since September and on Tuesday met with survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and families of those killed.

Debate over the issue has grown since Scottish champions Celtic introduced about 3,000 rail seats at Celtic Park at the beginning of last season.

Representatives from Celtic and the Sports Ground Safety Authority, which oversaw regulation surrounding the move to all-seater stadiums, were present at the meeting.

McKenna said the panellists' contribution helped those who attended feel "a lot more informed" about how the process could be implemented.

The vote will close on Friday, 28 July.

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