It is a victory for many groups of supporters who have made it a long-standing claim. UEFA announced on Wednesday the launch of a test allowing the return of spectators to the standing stands during matches of European men’s club competitions, starting from the coming season. This experiment is currently limited to France, but also to Germany and England, three countries among the top five in the UEFA rankings and where some of the stadiums already have spaces without seats where supporters can encourage their team.
In France, two of the six clubs involved in continental competitions are eligible due to the configuration of their stadium according to the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) association: PSG and Nantes. What the Parisian club confirms to Parisian-Today in France. “At the Parc des Princes, 1,500 places at the Auteuil bend will be dedicated to the Champions League, he explains. Initially, UEFA required clubs to have seats with backrests so that all supporters could sit and a seat number so as not to exceed the capacity of the stands. »
1500 seats in Auteuil bend
“Since last season, the club has changed 1,500 seats at the Auteuil bend, equipping itself with metal seats which make it possible to condemn the seat for Ligue 1 matches. There are two reasons for this: it is more practical for the supporters who wish to remain standing and this avoids the breakage caused by the supporters who climb on it, continues the PSG. Today, UEFA removes, in test, the rule to have a seat for each supporter, and PSG is eligible for the test period. We will therefore no longer be forced to unlock the seat for each Champions League match. »
At La Beaujoire, supporters of the Canaries will be able to benefit from it in the Tribune Loire during Europa League matches. The device will be tested during all the home matches of these teams, and this until a potential semi-final. None of the finals will be affected.
The standing stands had largely disappeared in Europe after various tragedies, such as that of Heysel in Belgium in 1985, Hillsborough in the United Kingdom in 1989 or that of Furiani, in Corsica, in 1992. That same year, France voted a law imposing that “only seats can be provided in the stands”. In 1994, England also banned these standing stands. UEFA no longer wanted to hear about it either, especially since its former president Michel Platini (2007-2015) had experienced the Heysel disaster from the lawn of the Brussels stadium where he faced Liverpool in the Champions League final with Juventus Turin.
A return in 2018 in France
But gradually, mentalities have changed. Germany took advantage of the 2006 World Cup organized on its land to modernize its stadiums, install modular seats and security bars to avoid crowds of supporters at the bottom of the stands. The infamous “Yellow Wall” in Dortmund is the most famous example of this in the Bundesliga. In France, the Professional Football League (LFP) launched a test in 2018 in Amiens, Lens, Saint-Étienne and Sochaux. The experiment was deemed conclusive, and has since been extended to other professional club venues, such as Strasbourg, Dijon, Valenciennes or Paris.
England experienced its cultural revolution in January when five clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premier League, Cardiff in the Championship – began their standing stands test during official matches. And it is now UEFA’s turn to follow suit with this experiment.
“UEFA will appoint independent experts to analyze the use of standing room facilities during domestic and international club matches in the above-mentioned countries. They will be tasked with assessing the different dynamics between domestic and international supporters and the safety and security implications, the body said in its statement. At the end of the 2022-2023 season, on the basis of the reports sent by the mandated experts, the UEFA administration will examine the conclusions drawn from the program and submit the results to the UEFA Executive Committee, which will decide whether the program can be continued or even extended. »