Chick Young's view on standing at matches

By Chick YoungBBC Scotland football pundit
Standing fans
Some fans are demanding to be permitted to stand during matches

The best comment I have heard about the argument of bringing back standing areas at our football grounds was definitely from a bloke on a tabloid phone-in.

"It will be all right," he argued. "As long as they put the taller people at the back."

That is quite the most magnificent example of logic I have heard since someone once told me that alcohol doesn't solve problems, but then neither does milk.

I don't like standing up at football matches, something perhaps to do with the fact that I was never a candidate for a career in basketball and consequently - in the days of long ago - spent game time trying to peer between the shoulders of big blokes in front of me.

Frankly, I didn't see matches; I saw bits of them.

Similarly, it gets right up my nose when people in the front rows at concerts stand up and dance, thereby blocking my view of, for example, the great Brian Wilson, whose performance I recently paid around £250 for four people to watch.

He was in the Beach Boys, for heaven's sake, heroes of the 60s.

If you are a real fan, you'll be more in need of a zimmer than a surf board.

I paid a lot of cash for a seat - so did you. If you want a long stand, go and wait for a bus.

There are other valid reasons why we shouldn't be ripping out seating at our grounds and allowing a return to the days of football's last stand.

When people are gathered row-by-row with seat numbers, it is much simpler for the police and stewards to identify troublemakers who, of course, can drift like sand in the wind when there are no restrictions.

And, interestingly, if you take a state-of-the-art stadium like, say St Mirren Park, the rates of elevation in the stands are all wrong for viewing simply by removing the seats, so you need to bring in the builders.

But, for all that, we do need to change.

Scottish football came off the ropes with an inflated television deal, which in these financially tormented times, is a fair old result and the game might yet pull through.

But the loss of the Clydesdale Bank was a ferocious right hook.

It is true isn't it - by the time you make ends meet, they move the ends.

So, if the customers, or at least a percentage thereof, want to stand then let them do so in certain designated areas.

But remember that we are talking football grounds here, not sardine cans.

I have stood at Hampden with 130,000 others with a crush factor that felt as if someone had gaffer-taped my arms to my sides.

So let them stand, but let them breathe.

Crazy, isn't it?

We talk about grounds like Somerset Park being an anachronism, but Ayr United fans and visiting supporters gather happily to stand behind the goals and on the pitch-long terracing viewing the action.

A relic of the past or a vision of the future?

Sitting fans
Some fans prefer to sit at matches

It's a changing world right enough.

We shouldn't be in the business of throwing people out of grounds, particularly when they have travelled on a six-hour round trip to watch their team and paid hard-earned cash at the turnstiles.

The Motherwell fans who were manhandled out of the ground at Pittodrie at the weekend must surely have been guilty of a vicious and heinous crime.

Experience is a fabulous thing if it allows you to look back and reflect that you might not quite have made the right decision back then.

That's different from regret.

Maybe there was a knee-jerk reaction when the game demanded all-seated arenas, but you have to remember the tragedies that triggered that thinking.

Once upon a time, you could smoke and drink your own carry-out on terracing and stands constructed of wood and no-one batted an eyelid.

That didn't make it right - riots and disasters proved it wrong.

But somewhere soon they are going to have to compromise - and the past might be the future.

Let's just stand and think about it for a while.

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