Fans are to be allowed to stand at European fixtures for the first time since 1988 next season after Uefa announced a trial of safe standing.
A ban imposed in the aftermath of the Heysel Stadium disaster, which has been in place for more than 30 years, is to be reviewed. Uefa delegates will observe safe standing at Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League fixtures in the 2022-23 campaign before coming to a long-term decision.
The trial will be limited. Standing will only be allowed at matches hosted by clubs in Europe’s big five leagues. But with Spain and Italy not having safe standing areas, this leaves only Germany, France and England. Further limits will be dictated by the number of individual clubs with standing areas. From England, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City are able to take part in the project, while Liverpool, West Ham and Arsenal will not.
The Scottish champions Celtic are also set to miss out despite being safe standing pioneers. There is, however, the prospect of the yellow wall being fully restored at the Signal Iduna Park Stadium, with Borussia Dortmund potentially part of the trial. National FAs must also confirm their willingness to allow clubs to take part.
“An increasing trend towards the use of standing facilities in some domestic competitions has been observed in recent years,” Uefa said in launching the Standing Facilities Observer Programme 2022-23. “Football supporters across Europe as well as clubs who regularly use standing facilities at domestic level have expressed increasing interest for Uefa to consider standing facilities at European matches.
“The objective is to assess if and under what conditions standing may be reintroduced in Uefa competitions in a safe manner.”
The programme will be carried out during the group stage and knockout phases of this season’s men’s European club competitions, up to and including the semi-finals. The finals are excluded.
Uefa says independent experts will also analyse the use of standing facilities at both domestic and international club matches in the three nations. They will assess the different dynamics between national and international supporters and the related safety and security implications.
The end-of-season findings will be submitted to Uefa’s executive committee, which will decide on any possible extension of the programme.