Today is the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
This past weekend, English (and Welsh) football marked the anniversary by adjusting all kickoff times to seven minutes past usual, allowing for silence to be observed during the preceding minute (the referee stopped the match at 3:06pm on that day). If you haven't seen it before, here's the BBC's Match of the Day from April 15, 1989. Also, a reminder that if you're in the USA, ESPN's excellent 30 for 30 series will be premiering a brand new two-hour documentary about Hillsborough tonight.
The disaster has had deep political, sporting, and cultural impact, one of which was the requirement of all-seater stadiums in England's professional football leagues. This was later relaxed to just the top two flights. Of course, if you've ever been to or seen a Premier League match on TV, you'll know that "all-seater" doesn't necessarily mean "all seated" and thus we have new points of controversy like persistent standing and a relative lack of atmosphere.
Safe standing is one way football fans across England are trying to deal with these new issues, and one way that safe standing can be achieved is with rail seating, which is common in the Bundesliga. Earlier this year, Bristol City's Ashton Gate Stadium was the first Football League ground to install them. And now, the roadshow whose aim is to promote and lobby for rail seating in England is coming to Stamford Bridge this weekend.
If you're local, be sure to go check them at out the cfcuk fanzine stall just outside the Fulham Broadway tube station. If you're not (or if you are), and you haven't yet done so, be sure to at least fill out the safe standing survey that we are running in conjunction with 20 Chelsea supporters' organizations, websites, and podcasts. The survey's deadline has been extended to April 25 in light of the roadshow's visit this weekend.
Stamford Bridge is often accused of lacking atmosphere. While that is a somewhat unavoidable side effect of rising ticket prices and rising fame, bringing (safe) standing back into the English game can only help to maintain and improve the passion and the noise of the beautiful game. The roadshow's visit is a positive step in that direction.