Arsenal CEO Gazidis open to safe-standing at Emirates

Arsenal could be set to join Aston Villa and their Villa Park plan to introduce a safe-standing area by replicating the scheme at the Emirates.

Villa will put forward their suggestion at a meeting of the Premier League later this season. And if given the go-ahead, the club hope to have the safe standing zone in place in the Holte End by the 2013/14 season.

But as long ago as last summer, Arsenal bigwig Ivan Gazidis revealed that he is in favour of the Gunners looking at the possibility of incorporating a safe standing area at the Emirates.

Chief exec Gazidis told an Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting that it was right to debate the return of terracing as long as it did not compromise fans’ safety.

He said: “It is something that I have always been open to. The more I learn about it, the more complex an issue it is, but viscerally it is something that I find attractive because it gives fans, a certain group of fans who like to stand who create the atmosphere, another way to be in our stadium.

“Why would you be against that, if you can do it safely? There are some issues, some very practical issues around safe standing; the rake of the stands and so on, that may make it cost prohibitive if it is not designed into the stadium at the beginning, but it is not something I am close minded to and I am prepared to explore it.”

Will Villa’s initiative give Gazidis fresh impetus to follow through his thoughts with actions?

It is reported, meanwhile, that Villa will need a change in law for the plans to go ahead. Villa are said to be keeping a close eye on the introduction of ‘rail-seats’ in stadiums such as Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.

These are flip-up seats which are Uefa-compliant and can accommodate seated supporters during designated all-seater matches or be stowed away to create a standing area at other times.

According to the Birmingham Mail, club chief executive Paul Faulkner has provisionally earmarked the corner ofVilla Park, where the Holte End meets theTrinity Road stand, for a test area.

Last month the Scottish Premier League gave its clubs permission to introduce safe-standing areas within their stadiums.

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