More than 50 Norwich City fans to be forced to move seats to stop standing concerns from cutting Carrow Road capacity
PUBLISHED: 09:47 19 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:08 19 December 2017
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More than 50 Norwich City fans, mostly children, are to be forced to give up their Carrow Road seats to move to another part of the ground, because of safety concerns over standing.
The affected fans, in block A of the lower Barclay End will get letters today telling them they must give up their seats from Friday’s Championship clash with Brentford - to avoid the ground’s capacity from being reduced.
The Safety Advisory Group (SAG)- representatives from the county council and emergency services - had made the capacity reduction threat after complaints over standing.
Fans in block A were sent letters earlier this month saying unless they could demonstrate a “distinct reduction” in persistent standing at the Sheffield Wednesday match, the Barclay End capacity could be cut.
But with standing, including children standing on seats, continuing, the SAG said the club would have to close off 211 seats in block A at this week’s game.
A special meeting was held on Monday last week, where the club proposed an alternative - that it tackle the issue of children standing on seats by moving them out of the block.
The club has identified 31 fans aged 16 or under and a further 20 people they believe are people who accompany them.
It has told them they will need to move to other areas of Carrow Road, where persistent standing is not an issue.
Steve Stone, managing director of Norwich City Football Club, said he understood those fans affected would feel it was unfair - and that some might not have been standing on chairs - but that it was “the lesser of two evils”.
Asked why the focus was on block A, he said: “For whatever reason, this season, people have been wanting to stand in that block - which hasn’t been the case in previous seasons.
“Because people have been standing, then younger supporters have not been able to see, so they have been standing on seats or on seat backs and that’s led to complaints to us at the club and to the SAG.”
Mr Stone said the club had proposed the seat switch to stop the capacity being cut.
He said: “I don’t want to have to re-seat anyone, but it was the lesser of two evils.
“I know it will feel like an injustice for those fans and it’s not an ideal situation, but it has been coming to a head for some time.”
Safe standing hopes
Norwich City bosses want to see safe standing return to Carrow Road and have even costed up the bill.
The standing debate has been given fresh impetus, with rail standing introduced at Celtic and Shrewsbury hoping to also bring back standing.
However, rules are different outside the top two English tiers and legislation introduced after the Hillsborough tragedy would have to change.
Steve Stone, managing director at Carrow Road, said he wanted Norwich City to be at the forefront of change.
He said: “If the legislation changed tomorrow, then I’d take seats out and make a safe standing area. I think there’s a point where it will happen,
“You go to any ground now and you see people standing.
“I’d rather they were doing that on flat concrete, than behind seats.
“We have costed it up. It would cost hundreds of thousands, but it’s not an insurmountable cost and I think there would be a long-term benefit.”