A nearly decade-long process is set to undergo its first real-world application when the calendar rolls over to 2022, with Chelsea’s match against Liverpool on January 2 confirmed as the first game of the Premier League’s safe standing trial, utilizing the rail seats that were installed over the summer in The Shed and the Matthew Harding Lower stands. The rail seating “road show” first came to the Bridge in 2014.
The Premier League gave permission for the trial in September, and four clubs have now been approved to carry those out: Manchesters United and City, and Tottenham in addition to Chelsea. Cardiff City in the Championship will also conduct trials after getting their license approved. While technically these are just trials, they do mark the end of the blanket ban on standing that’s been in place for over 25 years as a result of The Hillsborough Disaster and the subsequent findings of the Taylor Report.
One odd thing is that because the all-seater rules are still in place, the seating portion of the rail seats will apparently have to remain unlocked (i.e. down), which will make for a sub-optimal experience (and will also affect safety). Rail seats around Europe lock the seats in an upright position when standing areas are used. Hopefully the success of these trials will help change the Premier League rules to something similar and something more common sense.