Although the current 2019/20 season is yet to finish because of the coronavirus pandemic, one particular Man United icon will be looking a lot different once the 2020/21 campaign is in full flow.
That’s because the club have now been granted approval to install safe standing at their Old Trafford stadium, per the Daily Star.
Ever since the Taylor Report was published in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, English top-flight stadia have had to remain as all-seater. However, Wolves had their own application approved last year, according to the Daily Star, and now the approval for United to go ahead and modify Old Trafford will see rail seating introduced in the J Stand.
“It should be stated, up front, that our overwhelming priority is to keep our people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic,” United managing director, Richard Arnold, said, cited by the Daily Star.
“It may seem strange to talk about stadium plans at this time, but football and our fans will return when it is safe, and our preparations for that must continue in the background. This announcement is the latest step in what has been a long journey with our fans.
“We have listened to their feedback, in particular, the representations made by MUST, and worked with Trafford Council to develop and approve this proposal.
“Our belief is that the introduction of barrier seats will enhance spectator safety in areas of the stadium where – as with other clubs – we have seen examples of persistent standing. It also allows us to future-proof the stadium in the event of any changes to the current all-seater stadium policy. If the trial is successful, we may consider further implementation of barrier seating in other parts of the stadium.
“We will now move on to develop the installation, compliance and licensing plan for the trial, with a view to having the new seats installed for when we can welcome our supporters back to Old Trafford.
“Both of these initiatives underline our commitment to the continued improvement of Old Trafford, with a focus on further enhancing the matchday experience, atmosphere and safety for all supporters.”
It’s a move that will likely meet some push back from certain supporter groups, whilst it’s just as likely that many will be in favour of such a move. Standing at football grounds arguably gives a match more atmosphere, and it remains to be seen if this first move might lead to something more permanent further down the road.