Premier League and Championship clubs will be able to offer licensed standing space in their stadiums from January 1 of next year as part of a pilot program.

The Sports Field Safety Authority (SGSA) set out the plans in a statement on Wednesday.

The introduction of designated safe standing places would mean an end to the general standing ban in the two top divisions of English football, which has existed for over 25 years.

Clubs must apply to participate in the early adopter program by October 6th and, if approved, can operate a licensed standing area from New Year’s until the end of the season.

SGSA said the project will be evaluated independently, with all other areas of the stadiums remaining seated only.

Standing in today’s Premier League and Championship was banned by law after the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 that killed 97 Liverpool fans.

The introduction of the licensed standing room follows an obligation of the government in its 2019 election manifesto and is supported by all parties.

Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston said: “We made it clear that we will work with fans and clubs to introduce safe standing on football pitches, provided there is evidence that installing barrier seating has a positive impact on the safety of spectators Has.

A number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, have installed seats on rails for a safe stand

“With independent research now complete and seats in the courts across the country cluttered, now is the time to make progress. I look forward to hearing from clubs participating in ours in the second half of this season Want to participate in the early adopters program. ” . “

Clubs must meet a number of criteria to be eligible.

This includes the necessary infrastructure in both the home and away areas of their stadium, which allows fans to sit or stand in the standing room with the seats not locked in the “up” or “down” position to ensure that the areas are not open to other fans, including those with disabilities, provide a code of conduct for standing fans and consult the appropriate safety advisory group.

SGSA Managing Director Martyn Henderson said: “The focus of SGSA is on the safety and enjoyment of all fans on sports fields.

“We know a lot of fans want a choice, and with the advent of new tech solutions, our research has shown how this can be handled safely.

“Today’s announcement will allow us to properly test and assess licensed standing room before the government decides its next steps.”

The move comes after research conducted in the 2019/20 season prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic that found seats with barriers or independent barriers helped reduce the safety risk of prolonged standing.

The announcement affects clubs that are subject to the government’s all-seater policy.

Shrewsbury Town was the first English club with a stadium with all seats, which managed a secure footing

These include clubs in the Premier League and the Championship, or any club that has played three or more seasons in one of these divisions since 1994/95, as well as Wembley Stadium and Principality Stadium.

Kevin Miles, Executive Director of the Football Supporters’ Association, welcomed the move, saying, “We are excited to finally see a victory for the FSA’s Safe Standing campaign after overtime, penalties, and more than a few reruns and postponements!

“Today’s announcement is the result of a long and ongoing campaign by football fans – a victory for ordinary people in ordinary jobs who refused to accept the Taylor report’s claim that standing cannot be safely managed.

“It started in a world before the internet and before the cell phone, where a campaign meant Sunday morning trips to clubs in Altrincham, conference calls, handing out leaflets in the rain, and writing letters.

“Lately it has been more of a team effort, a sophisticated, coordinated partnership between the FSA, other fans and fan organizations, colleagues in the various football leagues and authorities, football clubs, MPs, officials, friendly journalists and more enlightened groups in the UK police force. We have come a long way. “