By 90Min
April 10, 2018

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives and an advocate of safe standing at football grounds, is among a number of campaigners who have slammed the government's decision to reject West Brom's proposed plans to introduce a safe standing zone at the Hawthorns. 

The Baggies had hoped to convert 3,600 seats in the Smethwick End into rail seats before the start of next season in a pilot scheme, which would enable the club to "gather data and feedback to further inform us in the issue of crowd safety," according to a statement released by the club's director of operations Mark Miles. 

The scheme, which was supported by the local safety advisory group as well as West Midlands police, has been rejected by the government, however, with Sports minister Tracey Crouch revealing that there are no plans to change the all-seater policy at football stadiums, according to the BBC. The decision has since been widely criticised as being "short-sighted" and "out of touch".

"It makes no sense at all, particularly when we know that thousands of supporters are persistently standing in every single ground across the UK," Davies is quoted as saying by the BBC

"One of the main drivers for West Brom's proposal, the club says, was to safely deal with the issue of fans standing in seated areas at the ground.

"This legislation was drafted in a different era, to address a different set of problems, and the government's continued opposition to safe standing is actually making it harder for clubs to guarantee supporter safety," Davies continued.

"The all-seater policy demonises football supporters with a ban that doesn't apply to concert goers, boxing fans, or people out for a day at the races.

"Safe standing is backed by the overwhelming majority of fans and it's time for politicians to listen, and to drive forward a sensible discussion on this issue."

All stadia in the top two divisions in England are required to be all-seaters, though there are some exceptions such as Brentford and Burton Albion. However, the EFL want all of its clubs - including those in the Championship - to be able to install rail seats should they wish to do so and have lobbied the government. 

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