For nearly three decades, since 1994 to be exact, stadiums in the top two flights of English football have been required to be all-seaters, with no standing (at least officially) and certainly no terracing allowed in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster and the subsequent findings of the Taylor Report.
But on January 1, those restrictions will be relaxed thanks to innovations such as safe standing (i.e. rail seating), which have been in use in other European leagues, most notably the Bundesliga. Rail seating allows for both standing and sitting configurations, with UEFA requiring all stadiums to be all-seaters still for European competitions.
The Sports Ground Safety Authority have announced today that they will allow Premier League and Championship teams to apply for safe-standing trials to begin in the new year. Clubs can apply until October 6, so hopefully Chelsea have the application at the ready.
Rail seating got installed at Stamford Bridge over the summer already (Shed Upper and Lower, and also the Matthew Harding Lower) — with delays in the retrofit causing our first game of the season to run at slightly limited capacity, much to the justified anger of those fans affected by the temporary unavailability of their seats! But that’s all sorted now, so hopefully we’ll get to see the rail seats in action when the calendar turns over to 2022 — some eight years after the “road show” first came to the Bridge in 2014!