FOOTBALL FANS continue to get all misty-eyed about the golden age of the terrace. That vast sea of humanity that used to sway with the rhythm of the match. The working class unleashing a cacophony of sound sprinkled with sardonic humour. Older generations talk of being lifted by the sheer force of numbers and carried along in an early form of crowd-surfing. Others, quite rightly, may recall some of the terrible accidents that, eventually, led to the demise of the terrace.
Game of the People wrote the above paragraph about terracing almost four years ago and cautioned, “careful what you wish for”. Today, KPMG’s Football Benchmark has published a paper, “Making a stand – the case for new terracing”, and highlights some of the progress made across Europe in implementing more flexibility for the spectator.
“Standing terraces have been a taboo subject for some time, but the successful implementation of new terracing designs in various European countries, most notably in Germany, has encouraged fans to campaign for the adoption of similar models in their domestic leagues,” says KPMG.
There is no doubt that terracing does make for a better vibe in the stadium. If you visit a ground with terracing, it does lend itself for a more vocal backing for the home team. Adds KPMG: “With clubs becoming increasingly aware of the dynamic aspect of standing supporters, it is now common for stadium architects to design new venues with the optionality to accommodate safe-standing areas. For example, this factor is being considered for Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, but also, outside the traditional footballing nations, for Orlando City’s new 25,500 capacity stadium, opening in 2017, and Western Sydney Wanderers’ new 30,000 venue, planned for 2019.”
Everyone looks to Germany as a good example of how modern terracing can work effectively. Borussia Dortmund’s so-called “Yellow wall” contributes to a unique matchday experience at the Signal Iduna Park and the club enjoys the best attendances across Europe.
Anyone expecting a return to the days of the Stretford End, the Kop, the Holt End and others will be disappointed. It is often forgotten that you didn’t see much of the game on the old packed terraces. If you lost your footing, which was quite possible, the kinetic energy of the crowd enabled you to roll with the rapids. When you’re a teenager, it’s fun, but when you reach the age where you look over to the seats with longing, the rough and tumble of the terraces is no longer for you.
But today’s “safe standing” concept is very different. New stadiums in Europe, such as Ferencvaros’ Groupama Arena, often have terraced areas that can be adapted for seating to meet UEFA requirements. There’s no denying that certain supporters like to stand in order to create a mood that defies the homogenous nature of some all-seater stadiums.
KPMG concludes: “There is certainly a commmercial case for safe standing, especially in stadia with high utilisation rates. Moreover, fan organisations have demonstrated their support for the introduction safe standing and a few clubs, especially in England, have been more willing recently to approach the topic and have entered into consultation with their supporters. However, the question remains whether this will be enough. Indeed, in their latest report on sports strategy, the British government confirmed it remains unconvinced by the case for reintroducing standing accommodation, confirming that such a process will undoubtedly be very time-consuming.”
To see the full KPMG report, click here