Aside from being a first for Mourinho, in his first loss at the Bridge, Saturday’s game also provided a more positive first for me, getting to see what safe standing rail seating is really like.
Like many of the all seater stadium generation, every other Saturday I find myself standing with others around me to the annoyance of many a steward. Many fans have noted at times the Bridge’s atmosphere can seem flat. Great fans schemes such as @shed_atmosphere and the original Return to the Shed initiatives have led the way in trying to combat this.
Safe standing offers the nostalgic atmosphere and crowd experience in the great stories from my Dads exploits of following Chelsea from the 1970s, without the hazardous and sometimes dangerous terraces, which ended in disaster.
What’s important is this isn’t about going in to the past, but about the future, the next stage of ground development, enjoyed around parts of Europe, most notably Germany.
The safe standing exhibition didn’t just highlight the ability to create unrivalled atmosphere for those who wish to stand at football, but also create an opportunity for Chelsea to create a different type of match day experience, both participatory and financially affordable. Safe standing would give Chelsea the ability to offer a cheaper ticket, without undermining the current seated price structure.
As we find ourselves limited to a capacity, which can be as low as 38,000 on big European nights because of TV coverage, safe standing offers us the potential to build capacity without moving ground or engaging in costly ground development.
Safe standing in the Premier League is not certainty and requires serious consultation with; the FA, Government and fans, to ensure we create a safe, enjoyable and passionate match day. The safe standing exhibition highlighted to all those who visited it that we need to have this discussion. As Chelsea continues to be hampered with the same questions over; limited capacity, high prices and changing Atmosphere, safe standing may just offer us all the answers we need.