Man United to trial safe standing at Old Trafford

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United will trial safe standing at Old Trafford after being given approval to install 1,500 barrier seats at the stadium.

All-seater stadiums have been mandatory in the top two tiers of English soccer since 1994-95, following safety recommendations made after the crush at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 that killed 96 people.

That legislation is being reviewed and Premier League clubs Tottenham and Wolverhampton have already installed rail seating.

United made a proposal to a local authority in December, requesting a trial, and it has been approved. The club intends to have the barrier seating in place for next season and would consider installing it in other areas of Old Trafford if the trial is successful.

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“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,” United managing director Richard Arnold said.

“It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy.”

Arnold said it was “strange to talk about stadium plans” at a time when soccer in Britain and most other countries is shut down during the coronavirus outbreak.

“But football and our fans will return when it is safe,” he said, “and our preparations for that must continue in the background.”

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