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Premier League clubs consider safe standing

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A woman touches the memorial to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool, Britain April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble
A woman touches the memorial to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield in Liverpool, Britain April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League clubs discussed one of the most emotive issues in English football on Thursday when they met to debate so called "safe standing" and its possible introduction.

Safe-standing areas, featuring retractable seats, have been introduced in some countries and the Premier League said in a statement that clubs had asked for a number of issues to be investigated before further discussions could take place.

All-seater stadiums became mandatory in England's top two divisions following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 96 fans were killed in a crush at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

"Premier League clubs today held initial discussions on safe standing," the Premier League said.

"Given that fan safety is of paramount concern clubs are understandably cautious and there was no overall consensus on the matter. This is a complex and emotive topic with a number of issues, varying from club to club, which need to be considered carefully before clubs can decide if they wish to pursue any changes, including legislative, that are required to allow them the option of safe standing areas in their grounds.

"The clubs have tasked the Premier League with scoping out the safety, supporter, technical and legislative issues surrounding safe standing before any further discussions, based on the facts, can take place."

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

"We have a tendency to forget things in history," Roberts said. "I think it's one step in the wrong direction, that will lead to another and another."

Football Supporters Federation chief Malcolm Clarke, however, said safe standing would be a "win for everyone".

"What we want to see is supporters who want to stand being able to do so in properly designed safe-standing areas, and supporters who want to sit being able to do so without people standing in front of them."

(Reporting by Toby Davis, editing by Pritha Sarkar)


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