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Football is at a standstill right now in so many places around the world but eventually we will be able to return to watch our team play again and today one Premier League club has been given permission to install seats to enable safe standing from the start of the 2020/21 season whenever that will be.

First Tottenham, with their new stadium, and then Wolves at Molineux have installed rail seating, although this, so far, has been no more than in readiness for a potential change which we all know is now on the way.

Today, Manchester United have confirmed that they have been granted permission to install 1,500 seats in the lower north-east section of Old Trafford in time for the commencement of next season. If the trial proves to be a success, they will consider installing rail seats in other areas of the stadium although they have said it is about mitigating the issue of persistent standing rather than promoting safe standing.

Managing director Richard Arnold explained: “It should be stated, up front, that our overwhelming priority is to keep our people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 particularly, the representations made by MUST, and worked with Trafford Council to develop and approve the 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.”

The north-east section is at the same end of Old Trafford to where the away fans are accommodated who are in the south-east corner.

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