Supporters of Shrewsbury Town have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £75,000 ($99,300/€83,700) to support the installation of 550 rail seats at the League One football club’s home ground.
The 10,000-capacity Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium is currently all-seater, however, Shrewsbury is looking to build a standing area across the back rows of the Salop Leisure South Stand.
Last week, Shrewsbury gained approval from the Sports Ground Safety Authority to move forward with the project. The club now needs to apply to Shropshire Council for a safety certificate. The project would see the club become the first English side to introduce safe standing.
The third-tier club last night (Tuesday) held a pre-launch event in which fans were shown a presentation of the plans, as well as a new campaign video and were also given the opportunity to enter a raffle for tickets to a German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund game, a side which currently has Europe’s largest rail seating area.
“Being able to stand in a proper standing area is something that many of our fans have missed in the 10 years since we moved from Gay Meadow, where over half the crowd used to stand. So there is great support now for our plan to introduce rail seating here to enable fans to stand safely,” said supporters parliament joint chair Roger Groves.
Shrewsbury hopes to follow in the footsteps of Scottish Premiership club Celtic, which implemented a 2,600-capacity safe standing area at the beginning of the 2016-17 season at Celtic Park. Standing at football matches was outlawed in the top two divisions following the Taylor Report into the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
This week it was announced that 88 per cent of Liverpool fans who took part in a poll conducted by supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly voted in favour of introducing rail seating at English football grounds.
The campaign is being officially launched to the public today (Wednesday), with the site being operated by football fanfunding specialists Tifosy, which has previously helped raise six-figure sums for stadium projects with clubs such as Bradford City, Portsmouth, and Fulham.
Shrewsbury’s plans are supported by the English Football League (EFL), whose chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We wish Shrewsbury Town every success with this fundraising effort, as the proposed installation of rail seating will be a useful opportunity to assess its implementation at an English professional football ground.
“Ultimately we want all EFL clubs to be able to offer fans the matchday experience they want, be it sat down or stood up, in stadia that are modern and safe.”
Also present at the launch was John Roberts of AFL Architects, who said: “The sightlines for standing fans are going to be excellent, none of the seated fans in the rows in front will have their view obstructed and the fans in wheelchairs on the raised platform at the back will be right in the midst of the most vibrant part of the ground, while still able to see clearly over the heads of the fans standing around them.
“AFL is now creating future-proofed stadium designs, allowing our clients the option to add rail seating at a later stage.”