Seats Please

MORE than 1,800 supporters were injured at football matches in England and Wales during the last season for which such data exists.

Many of those injuries occurred as a result of fans standing in seated areas.

That sobering statistic is, alone, one very good reason for using the seats at Home Park for what they are intended – standing in seated areas presents a huge safety risk, not only to the supporters who stand, but to those sitting around them.

At Argyle, we have a duty of care to everyone who visits Home Park and, in keeping with our Vision and Values, we take that duty very seriously.

That is why we ask all supporters to respect our requests to refrain from persistent standing.

‘Persistent’ is the key word.

We are not saying we expect the Green Army to stay bolted to their seat when Danny Mayor waltzes past three defenders and plonks a 25-yard drive into the top corner, or when Alex Palmer stretches and twists to tip over an opponents’ shot that appeared destined for the top corner.

Moments like that bring you to your feet, and rightly so. We want that to continue.

By ‘persistent’, we mean “when individuals in seated areas stand for prolonged periods of time other than for short durations during moments of excitement.”

That definition comes from a 28-page document produced this summer by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, the Government’s expert body in respect of sports ground safety.

The SGSA has a statutory responsibility for the issuing of licences to sports grounds for all football matches in England and Wales, and the weighty document outlines the SGSA’s approach this season to every club that, like Argyle, plays in a designated all-seater stadium.

Paramount to clubs being allowed to play under licence is that they must be rigorous in upholding the all-seater licence conditions of the Football Spectators Act 1989, the purpose of which are “to provide for the safety of spectators…”

Which is another very good reason for asking supporters not to stand – except for those moments of excitement, of course.

We have to. It is the law.

What happens if we ignore the conditions of our licence; if we do not act against people who stand for prolonged periods?

In the formal terminology of the document: “the SGSA will advise the relevant local authority that it is minded to move towards enforcement action under the 1989 Act for non-compliance with the terms and conditions (including the all-seater conditions) of the licence to admit spectators…the SGSA may take the following formal enforcement action:

  • impose additional licence conditions; and/or
  • suspend part, or all of the licence; and/or
  • revoke/not renew all or part of the licence.”

Simply, Argyle will be in big trouble. There would probably be large financial penalties. Ultimately, if the licence was fully, or even partially, revoked, we would be unable to play games at Home Park.

So, when a Home Park steward asks you to sit down, they are making the request, not because they are being killjoys, but because they are obliged to by law, and because they are concerned for the well-being of everyone who comes to Home Park.

Thank you for your understanding.

Enjoy the game. Safely.