Delighted for everyone involved in making Celtic the first club in Britain to be given permission to install Safe Standing facilities. There’s time for a seat but going to the football in Scotland was largely a standing undertaking for a century, for good reason.
Standing enables the creation of football’s now too scarce atmosphere, it allows people to shuffle in the cold and sing with projection. It’s also safer across more scenarios than sitting.
I have one (significant) problem with the plans……..
Celtic intend to install Safe Standing at the corner of the lower North and Lisbon Lions stands, including the Green Brigade’s area. The Green Brigade pitched up at this part of the ground one League Cup game several years ago, the area was no more or less appropriate for as a singing section than any other part of the ground.
The North Stand upper is the proper place for a Safe Standing section, front and centre of the stadium. It’s where the Jungle was, and if we’re going to come anywhere close to recreating the unique atmosphere of the Jungle in a modern stadium, we must select the appropriate area.
The Safe Standing section will have unique properties. The ability to stand all game, bounce around and generally be more active, will ensure it sells out, but it’s unlikely to attract the infirm, and it will never be part of the family section. It’s also not going to attract corporate business.
The decision where to locate this section is unlikely to be reversed until there is a major stadium renovation, and that’s likely to be decades away. A couple of decades out, there will be more demand for family and infirm sections, more demand for corporate and lounge facilities.
Football spent years failing to notice how people grew fond of comfort, shelter, safe and clean facilities. The trend is not over. Thousands will want to stand, but perhaps more will want access to lounges, video games for the kids and shops selling all sorts.
Celtic Park is magnificent building of its time but it’s not a 21st century stadium. The Celtic Way is genuinely stunning, but if we want to cater for fans in the decades to come we’ll need proper cafes, fan zones, bars, better toilets and a museum. We’ll need to make use of all that land we’ve acquired, but which largely lies undeveloped.
Real estate in the lower stands will be more of a premium in the future, we should plan for it now, make the Safe Standing section the New Jungle.
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