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West Bromwich Albion have seen their hopes of introducing safe standing for both home and away fans at The Hawthorns rejected by the Government.

West Brom are one of an increasing number of clubs who are in favour of a return to safe standing and put themselves forward to run a pilot scheme in the Smethwick End for both home and away supporters.

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They made a formal application in October of last year to install the section this summer ahead of the 2018/19 season, but they have been knocked back by Tracey Crouch MP, the Minister for Sport, who has ruled it out and confirmed there are no plans to change the current all-seater policy for clubs in the Premier League and Championship.

Mark Miles, the director of operations at West Brom, has described the decision as both surprising and disappointing and has now written to the Sports Ground Safety Authority urging a review. Miles has done his research too. He’s visited both Celtic (shown above) and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim where rail seating, which is the system favoured by West Brom, is used successfully.

“I find the decision from the Minister of Sport both surprising and disappointing,” he said. “It will certainly be disappointing for many, many supporters I have spoken to who were in favour of what we were proposing. It has also been a regular topic of discussion at our Albion Assembly meetings where the members support has been clear.”

He made it clear that they were not going to introduce additional standing but wanted to manage that which is currently taking place, as Burnley fans will know from last week’s visit.

He added: “I think the Minister has taken a short-sighted view and is preventing the club from creating a safer environment for supporters. The all-seater policy was developed over 25 years ago and football is a very different place now.

“The system we proposed is well-tested across Europe and has also worked successfully at Celtic, who are governed by different legislation than in England and Wales. We were prepared to run a pilot which would enable the Club to gather data and feedback to further inform us in the issue of crowd safety.

“But I have become convinced that rail-seating would enhance safety. The Club is extremely disappointed with this decision and we have written back requesting a review.”

Up the Clarets and Burnley FC Supporters Groups fully support the introduction of safe standing which we believe will benefit all and that includes clubs as well as supporters, those who wish to stand and those who prefer to sit.

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