Stadium designer: Standing safe and exciting

Standing areas at stadiums could make a return now that they can be safely managed, one of the world's leading stadium architects said on Tuesday.

"I think it is coming back," said John Barrow of Populous architects which has planned and designed stadiums worldwide including Soccer City in Johannesburg and the London Olympic Stadium.

"We as designers have no problem with standing at all. It would clearly need to be legislated for, managed and safely stewarded, but in terms of safety, it can be done without any problems at all in small areas."

He added: "It has to be properly managed, you need more stewards, and the family areas have to be properly segregated so that families feel secure.

"You also have to make sure that the spectators behind continue to have an uninterrupted view."

Standing was banned at English grounds following the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield in 1989 and stadiums for international competitions such as the Champions League, World Cup and European championship are all-seaters.

However, it is allowed at domestic games in Germany where many clubs have removable seats which make way for standing areas at Bundesliga matches and are put back for international games.

"It is great to have standing areas," said Barrow, speaking at the International Football Arena conference.

"They increase excitement in stadiums, particularly behind the goals.

"If the legislation is there to allow the top clubs to have standing areas again, it could help the clubs who are looking to expand capacity and allow more young people in."