Non League Daily

Mariners want to be trailblazers on safe standing

After being such a success in the German Bundesliga, the discussion about safe standing in English football grounds has come back into the limelight.

One club has raised its head above the parapet and it seems that the English version of Borussia Dortmund's "Yellow Wall" could be found at one of its oldest clubs.

Vanarama Conference club Grimsby Town announced plans to introduce safe standing at their famous Blundell Park ground last week and Stadium Manager Nick Dale wants to see the Mariners become a "trailblazer" for clubs in English Football to follow, should they get permission to conduct a trial.

"We want to be a trailblazer with safe standing in this country and if we get permission to do so it will benefit every club in the country. We want to set the trend of this is the way to do it. If little old Grimsby Town can do it then why can't other clubs in the Premier League and Football League follow suit"

Indeed, Dale believes that the Mariners, who currently sit in third place in the Vanarama Conference, could be seen as the perfect choice to test the safe standing at football grounds.

"If a club like Grimsby Town can achieve this, without the resources other clubs have, there is no reason why other clubs with more resources to do so. We are the ideal club in the pyramid to do it because it's a realistic study we want can't throw money at it, we do it within our means"

Many of those against the introduction of safe standing do so with the argument based around the potentially unsafe nature of terracing at packed football grounds. However Dale wants to see the seated rail system that has been such a success in Germany introduced and believes that it will give supporters the power to make what he calls "an informed decision whether to sit or stand".

"The seated rail system is a compromise for me. It gives supporters an informed decision whether to sit or stand whilst still being within the confines of having an all-seater stadium, it still conforms with the license should we get promoted too. What we are trying to do is not circumvent the rules, but to work with the authorities to get agreement that we can be a pilot and push forwards with a study into safety and supporters welfare"

The Mariners have the best away record in the Conference and that, according to Dale, is in no small part down to the atmosphere generated by the standing facilities at many of the grounds his club has visited so far this season.

That led to the club discussing the possibility of introducing safe standing at their Blundell Park home with supporters ground 'The Mariners Trust' and Dale insisted that support engagement is of vital importance to any football club.

"The idea came about from engaging with our supporters, especially when it comes to away games. Most of the grounds we visit have standing facilities and the level of support and the atmosphere that generates has had a good impact on how our players respond.

That has led us to have the best away record in the league and we put part of that down to how our players are able to interact with the supporters, they can embrace modern techniques of supporting their club"

"We have listened to our supporters and what they want. If you don't listen to your support, to the next generation of supporters, to what they want, then inevitably you will lose that support. Without the next generation of support where do the clubs go?

Without them you are relying on directors donating money or you play within your means, which can mean not being competitive. We need them and we want to be successful and be competitive on and off the pitch"

Cynics may point out that there is a financial reasoning behind the Mariners' proposals for safe standing. However Dale revealed that the accusation could not be further from the truth, with the club initially reducing their capacity to allow safe standing to be introduced but he did hope that in the long-term it would mean the club being more attractive to supporters.

"Rails and standing is of no monetary benefit to us as a football club, in fact it will reduce capacity. What would happen is our capacity would reduce by one seat per row. It's not about making more money or getting people in, it's purely about giving our supporters what they want. It's the way they want to support their club and that will mean more will come"

Image: Grimsby Town FC

TABLES, FIXTURES, Results, Team News & MORE