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Setback for return to safe standing at football stadia

English football fans who had hoped Premier League and Championship clubs were close to a deal on allowing safe standing at their grounds have suffered a blow.

The UK government has now said in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) ‘Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation’ report that it “remains unconvinced” by the case to reintroduce safe standing at grounds.

Since a rail seating section was installed at Celtic Park in Scotland for this season, fans had been hoping they might see the same system installed at their grounds.

But the DCMS said: “Since a rail seating section was installed at Celtic Park, there has been growing speculation that such accommodation could be introduced into Premier League and Championship football grounds.

“The government remains unconvinced by the case put forward for re-introducing standing accommodation at football grounds covered by the all-seater requirement, but will continue to monitor how it is working at Celtic.”

Premier League clubs agreed further talks on the possibility of introducing safe standing at grounds in November, but any change to allow standing in England would need new legislation to be passed.

Premiership and Championship stadiums have been obliged to be all-seater after standing at matches was banned following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans died during their club’s FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.