LONDON (Reuters) – Everton said on Thursday that their proposed new stadium will be “future-proofed” to enable “safe-standing” areas should regulations change.
The Merseyside outfit, who have played at Goodison Park since 1892, last year formally agreed a 200-year land lease at the proposed Bramley Moore Dock site.
On Thursday the Premier League club announced that it was proposing a capacity of 52,000 for the new stadium, rising to 62,000 in the future with two stands designed to house safe-standing areas.
“The design of two of the stands will make it easy to adopt a rail seating/safe standing solution, which will offer optionality and flexibility, should the law change in future,” Everton said in a statement on their website.
The proposed capacity and design of the new stadium is subject to further public consultation with fans and important stakeholders, including Liverpool City Council.
Everton say they will submit a detailed planning application for the stadium in the second half of 2019.
“At this stage, it is important to stress that this is our ‘proposed’ capacity and it is what we are currently working towards,” Colin Chong, Stadium Development Director, said.
“We believe that our approach is the right one because it is commercially and financially sustainable and will mean that, in the long term, we will be able to increase the capacity should there be a demand and requirement to do so.”
Standing in England’s top flight has been outlawed by the Football Spectators’ Act of 1989, following the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield.
There has been a mounting campaign, however, to allow some standing areas, similar to those in Germany’s Bundesliga.
West Bromwich Albion had a proposal for 3,600 “rail seats” rejected by Ministers this year but a petition signed by 112,000 people has been handed in calling for the Government to look again at allowing top-flight clubs to have standing areas.
The English Football League (EFL) are also backing the campaign. An announcement is expected in January.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)