Trafford Council has today given Manchester United the go ahead to trial an area of barrier seating for 1,500 fans next season.
Following the success of The Red Army singing section over the past couple of seasons, where fans who are keen to improve the atmosphere can get tickets and bring an away day feel to the ground, the club has been keen to explore other ways to make Old Trafford even louder.
The section will go in J Stand, or North East quadrant, between the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and old Scoreboard End. It is likely to be installed in three months time, depending on the current situation of the country in light of coronavirus. If the trial is a success, then this will be expanded to other areas of the ground.
Standing has been banned in the Premier League and Championship following the Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. However, barrier or rail seats are seen as a safer alternative to persistent standing, which currently occurs in several areas of the ground.
MUST (previously SU and IMUSA) have been campaigning for this change since all-seater stadiums were introduced, with Managing director Richard Arnold talking about the importance of listening to fans while also keeping them safe.
It should be stated, up front, that our overwhelming priority is to keep our people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. It may seem strange to talk about stadium plans at this time, but football and our fans will return when it is safe, and our preparations for that must continue in the background.
This announcement is the latest step in what has been a long journey with our fans. We have listened to their feedback, in particular, the representations made by MUST, and worked with Trafford Council to develop and approve this proposal.
Our belief is that the introduction of barrier seats will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing. It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy. If the trial is successful, we may consider further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium.
We will now move on to develop the installation, compliance and licensing plan for the trial, with a view to having the new seats installed for when we can welcome our supporters back to Old Trafford.