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Friday, 22 December, 2000, 14:06 GMT
Disaster families criticise Hoey
Hillsborough Disaster, 1989. Empics.
A fan grieves in the aftermath of the 1989 tragedy
Relatives of Liverpool supporters who died in the Hillsborough disaster have called for a meeting with Sports Minister Kate Hoey.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group have been outraged by Hoey's admission that she would consider a return to "safely designed standing areas" at Premier League grounds.

Her opinion is in direct opposition to her boss, Culture Secretary Chris Smith and angered the families of the 96 victims of the disaster in 1989.

"We challenge Kate Hoey to meet us and look us in the eyes as she attempts to explain why she is fiddling with safety in response to a vociferous minority of fans," said HFSG chairman Trevor Hicks.

"We intend to campaign vigorously to ensure this act of folly does not progress further.

"She may have forgotten the horror of Hillsborough, we have not and cannot."

The Premier League have described any return to standing as "inconceivable".

Football Foundation chief executive Peter Lee has called on lower league clubs to install more seats in their grounds.

Encourages

Lee, whose organisation contributed almost 300m to the redevelopment of stadia in its previous incarnation as the Football Trust, feels more clubs should look at all-seater stadiums.

He said: "The Football Foundation firmly supports mandatory all-seated accommodation at Premier League and First Division clubs.

"The Foundation also encourages clubs in the lower divisions to go all seater where ever possible."

But Hoey's opinion has been backed by new Wembley chairman Sir Rodney Walker, even though he admitted standing areas were unlikely to be included in plans for the stadium.


Every recent independent survey has clearly shown that the vast majority of fans want to be able to sit and watch their team play.
  Football Foundation boss Peter Lee
"I know that Kate Hoey is a minister who listens to the fans and the fans have never stopped saying they wish there was some standing terracing available for them," said the Leicester City chairman.

"I see people who stand up at Leicester in every home game when it gets exciting.

"For the moment I have to work within the laws of the land and the National Stadium, I suspect, will be an all-seater stadium."

Lee though is adamant that there will be no return to the past, even if the safe standing scheme Hoey has seen in Germany is believed to be completely safe.

"Injury statistics gathered over the last four years show that even a new terrace designed to the highest standards could never achieve the levels of safety afforded by seated accommodation.

"In addition, we must also be mindful that seating provides a quick and effective means of isolating potential trouble before it gets out of hand.

"Every recent independent survey has clearly shown that the vast majority of fans want to be able to sit and watch their team play.

"All-seated accommodation must be here to stay at all clubs in our leading divisions."

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See also:

22 Dec 00 |  Sports Talk
Should terraces return to football?
22 Dec 00 |  Football
Football split over terrace return
22 Dec 00 |  SOL
Terracing: For and against
14 Apr 99 |  UK
Timetable to a tragedy
22 Dec 00 |  Football
Why Hoey faces a losing battle
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