Date: 11th November 2016 at 11:46am
Written by:

Following yesterday’s announcement by the Premier League that all 20 member clubs had agreed that at least one block of away fans would be pitch side, here’s a breakdown of what that actually means in practice, based on arrangements in place for 2016/17.

The announcement yesterday by Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore read.

‘Basically you won’t be able to be stuck up in the third tier, out in the corner, if you’re an away fan. It’s about atmosphere. One of the unique things about our game, particularly in England, is the amount of away fans and the noise they create. When an away goal is scored, you want that atmosphere and interaction between the two sets of fans.’

He added.

‘Pitch-side is the easiest way of describing it but clearly some ground configurations mean there might be some gap between where the seats actually are, and there might be something else in between that and the pitch.’

As we already knew at the point, having now been agreed by the 20 member clubs in the top flight, the three sides promoted from the Championship next season do not have a say and cannot prevent the rule change coming into effect.

I wondered what this might mean for some grounds, would it be wholescale changes necessary – I don’t know, I’m not a stadium anorak!

And to be honest I didn’t get round to even trying to check, but helpfully I spotted a piece in The Mirror – so all credit to them as they did the legwork.

The number of club’s that will have to rethink seating arrangements for next season totals: three.

Well, not even three, because Tottenham Hotspur are in their last final throes of life at White Hart Lane prior to moving to their new ground, so it means two clubs will have to make changes.

Manchester United and Sunderland.

All of the other, current, Premier League sides already accommodate at least one block of away fans next to the pitch – or what would be considered pitch side based on their report – which is probably why this agreement came out of the blue and was achieved so quickly!

The Football Supporters’ Federation were also involved in trying to help this switch come through, and there own report highlights Sunderland as the only side to not have any pitchside seats.

So clearly people are taking a slightly different determination on what constitutes a ‘block’ pitchside – or at least an acceptable ‘block’.

In any event though, it should see those areas safely grow in the future, and whilst only a small change – in and of itself it won’t stop some away fans being crammed high and in a corner) – it can be considered another small step in the right direction.

Kevin Miles, FSF Chief Executive commented.

‘We’ve lobbied the Premier League for a number of seasons to move more away fans pitchside and we’re very pleased they have chosen to do that from 2017. Placing away fans up in the gods may appear to give home teams a competitive advantage, but often in reality this kills the atmosphere for everyone on matchday, this is why we’ve been lobbying for such a rule to be introduced. We’re pleased to see this step taken. Away fans make a massive contribution to the atmosphere by bringing noise, colour and character to football grounds every weekend – and we want football to make the most of that.’