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Soccer-Aston Villa offer "safe-standing" trial

Reuters

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Aston Villa have offered to trial so-called "safe-standing" areas at their Villa Park stadium in a bid to see if it will work in the Premier League, a club official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Standing at Premier League and Championship (second tier) matches has been banned since 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough in 1989 while clubs in League One and Two are allowed sections of terracing.

At a vote of the 72 Football League clubs earlier this month, the majority were in favour of bringing back standing areas at second tier grounds while the debate surrounding its re-introduction to the top flight has gathered pace.

"We'd be interested in a trial at Villa Park if that would help," Aston Villa's football operations manager Lee Preece told the BBC.

"We've identified areas we could use for a small-scale trial so the rest of football could see if it works within a Premier League environment.

"The supporters will see the benefits of their own matchday experience in terms of atmosphere."

Preece said there are "seven or eight" Premier League clubs interested in debating the issue.

The BBC reported Aston Villa would use 'rail-seats' to trial the safe-standing zone.

Rail-seating has been used by German Bundesliga clubs, including last year's Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund, in an effort to improve the atmosphere for fans.

Margaret Aspinall, from the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the timing of the trial was "insensitive" with new inquests due to begin in March.

"I find it very insensitive at this moment in time because obviously the most important thing for the families is these inquests," she told the BBC.

"We've got the 25th anniversary coming up, now we feel as if this is like another battle." (Reporting By Mark Pangallo; editing by Toby Davis)

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