The Liverpool supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly has thrown its backing behind the club’s plans to introduce rail seating at Anfield from the start of next season.
It was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that a total of 7,800 seats will be installed with safety rails, with around 1,800 of those seats being positioned at the back of the Kop.
The remaining 6,000 will be stationed in the lower tier of an Anfield Road stand that was on Tuesday morning given the green light to be expanded by a further 7,000 seats.
The ECHO also understands Liverpool are one of five Premier League clubs to run the trial following a recommendation from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).
But the club have stressed that Anfield will remain an all-seater stadium and the trialled areas with the new seats and rails are not ‘safe standing' sections.
And now reacting to the decision, SOS have revealed that 88 percent of the 18,000 people who took part in their rail seating poll voted in favour of the move.
“Spirit of Shankly welcome the news from Liverpool FC today that they are to trial the introduction of rail seating at Anfield this coming season,” an official statement read.
“There will be a total of 7,800 places –1,800 in the Kop and 6,000 in the Lower Anfield Road Stand – in this initial run. Further details of how these will be incorporated and the implications on those who have seats in these areas is to come.
“A decision was taken, at our AGM in September 2016, that SOS should begin discussions around the prospect of rail seating. Following lengthy consultation with Hillsborough families and survivors, including members of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and Hillsborough Justice Campaign, a public meeting was held at The Liner Hotel, Liverpool on 22 July 2017.
“SOS’ position was finally determined by the outcome of a vote by our membership and the wider LFC support base. Just on 88%, of 18,000 who took part, were in favour of introducing rail seating. It was followed by a visit to Celtic FC to experience it in action, which was well received by those who attended.
“This is an emotive situation for all involved with our club and we know there will be mixed reactions to today’s report. It’s not a case of right or wrong and those who have concerns should be heard and their views respected. Rail seating already exists in some grounds, and the groundswell of public opinion in favour, not only within Liverpool’s support but across the country, means it was inevitable it would eventually become widespread.
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“The safety and comfort of all fans are paramount and will remain the case. The Taylor Report, published after the Hillsborough disaster, stated that standing was not the cause of events that day and standing in general at football matches was not inherently unsafe.
“There have been major strides in ensuring supporters are safe at football stadiums over the past 30 years. Allowing fans to stand again and safely is the future. This is a small step along the way where safety will be at the forefront of all changes to come in how we watch the game at Anfield.
“We remain in contact with the club and will update when we have further information.”