Liverpool are to introduce 7,800 seats with safety rails at Anfield next season to reduce the risks associated with persistent standing.
The seats will be installed on a 12-month trial basis after advice from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) to six Premier League clubs on avoiding potential crowd collapses. About 1,800 seats with safety rails will be located at the back of the Kop and 6,000 in the lower tier of the Anfield Road Stand. Anfield will remain an all-seat stadium because the seats with safety rails are not considered “safe standing” areas.
The seating being installed includes normal stadium seats with an integrated safety rail behind them that prevents a crowd collapse. They enable fans to stand at certain moments of a game such as a goal celebration, but must be used as a seat at other times. The introduction follows a recent safety review by SGSA and research commissioned by the authority that shows rails improve safety within all-seat stadiums.
All-seat stadiums have been compulsory in the Premier League since the start of the 1994-95 season following the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster. Liverpool sent a personal letter in advance of Tuesday’s announcement to Hillsborough victims’ families to explain the reasons for the trial.
Andy Hughes, Liverpool’s managing director, said: “The safety of our supporters when they come to Anfield is our absolute priority and we are fully committed to working with the SGSA on the trial of these new seats at Anfield. It is critical that we listen to the experts and deliver their recommendations to address this safety issue. We have informed key stakeholders and thank all fans for their input and support during this trial. We will complete a full review of the trial in 12 months at the end of next season.”
Liverpool, meanwhile, have received planning permission for the expansion of the Anfield Road Stand from Liverpool city council. Plans for the redevelopment, which will increase Anfield’s overall capacity by about 7,000 seats to more than 61,000, have been on hold because of the pandemic and the club has altered initial designs after two public consultations. That includes abandoning plans to permanently close a section of Anfield Road.