London Sports Business Internship Blog #8: Day 2 at QPR

London Sports Business Internship Blog #8: Day 2 at QPR

4.55pm Holland Park tube. Old Crow Medicine Show ‘Methamphetamine’
Started the day making a power packed nutritious salad for lunch which turned out to be delicious even if it was a 5 degree kinda day. I left the flat at 8am and made the hour journey to White City with time to spare so I’ll probably start earlier as I’m really enjoying all the work the team are giving me.
As soon as I got to the office I was quick to work researching aspects of interest from the QPR fans for the fan forum tomorrow night. I was tasked with finding some information on policies and laws on e-cigarettes and safe standing in English grounds along with wifi networks in stadiums. These were all areas in which the fans had requested information on.
Morning in Arnos Grove

Morning in Arnos Grove

I tried to get in touch with my contacts at Suncorp Stadium and The Den through the Brisbane Roar but by 10am here it was already after 7pm back in Brissy, so i’ll take this up again tomorrow. I got to speak to a few organisations from the Safe Standing road show and Footballers Federation and tonight I’m going to shoot off an email from my smart new QPR email to Western Sydney Wanderers who have purchased rail seats for Parramatta Stadium to ask them some questions. I put together the following information for  safe standing and it really makes for a good understanding of the issues as to why it has been banned for so long…. Well for one its not illegal! But take a read.
Loftus Road at 2pm

Loftus Road at 2pm

I then started to research e-cigarettes in stadiums and put together this table (will add later) on the 44 EPL/Championship teams who allow smoking areas or e-cigarettes. I then got to call the Premier League office and speak to them about these issues as well, very exciting stuff. Ended up with the following research:
1. Safe Standing

Overall Research Conclusion:
Many clubs are keen to have SS, momentum is growing with fans and other clubs around the world, rugby/music etc allow it as do league 1 down but the laws need to be changed first for championship/EPL to allow it. Overwhelming feeling is that it will be allowed soon in EPL/Championship on a trial basis due to its success in other parts of the world, especially Germany’s Bundesliga.

• LAW: The legislation relating to standing in football grounds derives from section 11 of the Football Spectators Act 1989: ‘The Secretary of State may, by order, direct the licensing authority to include in any licence to admit spectators to any specified premises a condition imposing requirements as respects the seating of spectators at designated football matches at the premises; and it shall be the duty of the authority to comply with the direction.’

• The law does not say that standing is illegal but that grounds need seats, however it is contrary to the football league ground regulations.

• In England and Wales, standing is permitted at rugby union and rugby league venues, as well as at speedway and horse-racing. It is also permitted at football grounds outside the top two divisions.

• Safety is commonly perceived to be the main reason for all-seating. The Taylor Report refers to capacity control, stating that seating allows those in charge to know the exact number of supporters in a particular part of a ground. He also refers to swaying and surging, stating that these cannot occur in all-seated stadia, where, he says, “involuntary and uncontrolled crowd movements occasioned by incidents in the game are effectively eliminated”.

• This has been mitigated by access technology, as laid down by the Green Guide at all major UK football grounds. Longer crush barriers allow a far shorter unhindered run. With rail seats, where there is a barrier along every row, surging is physically impossible.

• See site who are leading the way

• The Safe Standing Roadshow works alongside the Football Supporters Federation  to promote rail seats. The FSF see ‘rail seats’ as the most suitable safe standing solution for Premier League and Championship stadia,as they enable clubs that have an expectation of playing in European competition to provide accommodation for standing spectators at domestic games while being able to convert such areas to all-seater configuration to fulfil UEFA and FIFA requirements. The roadshow has persuaded some clubs to support safe standing.

• The aim of the FSF : To persuade the Government, football authorities and football clubs to accept the case for introducing, on a trial basis, limited sections of standing areas at selected grounds in the stadiums of Premier League and Championship football clubs.

• As of May 2013, a total of 25 clubs in England and Wales playing in the Premier League and Football League have backed safe-standing. Premier League clubs who have expressed support for safe standing include Manchester City, Aston Villa and Swansea City.

• Vote passed recently  by 55 out of the 72 Football League clubs recently at their AGM, where they approved a motion to “explore the steps necessary” to run safe standing trials.

• An example of what Brisbane Roar do in Australia at Suncorp Stadium with their active supporters area is allow a scaffolding structure to exist around fans with a guy on top barking chants etc. 

• The Western Sydney Wanderers (Australia) plan to install German style rail seating into the Red & Black Bloc active support section of their home ground Parramatta Stadium, as part of a larger capacity and facility upgrade in 2014.

• One country that has developed such alternative forms of standing accommodation is Germany.

• All German Bundesliga grounds permit standing and many have very large standing areas. Until as recently as 2004, for instance, top-flight German club Borussia Mönchengladbach’s home stadium, the Bökelbergstadion, provided standing accommodation for over 25,000 fans and seats for under 9,000.

• Today, Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park (aka the Westfalenstadion) provides standing accommodation for 27,000 fans.

• Example of “RAIL SEATS” in German stadiums, currently leading the way in terms of safe standing.

• New stadia, such as Morecambe FC’s Globe Arena (opened in 2010) with standing for over 4,000 spectators and St Helens Rugby League Football Club’s Langtree Park (opened in 2012) with standing for almost 8,000, continue to be built with terraces and are operated safely in accordance with the Guide.

• Bristol, June 2013. Bristol City look set to become the first club in the UK to incorporate safe standing rail seat areas into their ground.

• The only sad thing about the plans is that unless the rules change between now and August 2015 only supporters of the club’s new groundshare partners, Bristol Rugby, will be allowed to stand at the rail seats. For football games the stadium will still have to offer only “seated accommodation”, so the rail seats will be unlocked to enable them to be used as seats.

• Good video here to watch:
2. E-Cigarettes

Overall Research Conclusion
Health benefits still unknown therefore health groups wary of allowing the promotion/advertising/de-normalising of smoking, regulated as medicines in other countries, will be regulated in UK from 2016, has not stopped some clubs signing sponsorship deals with e-cig firms, EPL will be banning e-cigs anyway from 2013/14 season.

• LAW: Because UK law allows building owners and landlords to determine policy for themselves, clubs and stadiums have the right to limit or restrict vaping, or any other activity for that matter. There is no rhyme or reason to it, but there’s also nothing that football fans can do about it.

• Last month the UK  Government announced electronic cigarettes were to be classified as medicines in a bid to tighten up regulation.

• The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency says it will regulate e-cigarettes as medicines when new European tobacco laws come into force.

• Jeremy Mean of The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the government had concluded that e-cigarettes currently on the market do not meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy.

• In some countries, such as New Zealand, e-cigarettes are regulated as medicines and can be purchased only in pharmacies.

• In other countries, including Denmark, Canada and Australia, they are subject to restrictions on sale, import and marketing. Complete bans are in place in Brazil, Norway and Singapore.

• Although they contain nicotine, electronic cigarettes are marketed as being less harmful than real ones because they do not contain harmful toxins such as tar.

• But research has shown the levels of nicotine each e-cigarette contains varies from batch to batch.

• Fearing the unknown consequences, some countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, have banned them altogether, even though actual tobacco remains legal.

• Derby County and Merthyr Town FC, Burnley and Celtic have had sponsorship deals with e-cigarette companies. Derby even gave away free e-cigs to supporters, however the big issue from health groups is that there is just not enough evidence/research yet to say definitively that e-cigs are OK to smoke. So for one angle to counter the e-cig issue in LR, there’s obviously big health concerns still to be addressed.

• Football fans in Shrewsbury and Telford will now be subject to some policy changes relating to the use of electronic cigarettes on those football grounds. In Shrewsbury, e-cig vaping has been banned at the Greenhouse Meadow stadium, while at the New Box Head stadium Telford, e-cig users can still use their e-cig devices, but only in designated vaping areas.

• Manchester City and Chelsea have both banned the electronic tobacco alternatives in their stadiums. In Manchester City, one fan recently had his season ticket suspended specifically because he used an e-cig whilst on the concourse.

• From 2014/15, the Premier League will ban e-cigarettes inside stadiums.

• Brilliant article on MLS team Sporting Kansas and their new stadium…
From 2-3pm I got to sit in on a marketing sales pitch from a telco company offering direct call back and sms services. It was interesting to see the backend of how these systems work, sending out 30,000 odd targeted texts at 2-3p a pop. Enjoyed the sales pitch which included street press advertising too which was interesting to hear from a London football club perspective rather than music industry.
There were plenty of other jobs I got to work on today but for privacy reasons I just will not be disclosing them however its safe to say I have learnt so much in just 2 days that this is just such a thrill.
Home cooked goodness

Home cooked goodness

About Blair Hughes

I'm a passionate advocate for fans and an authority in the fan engagement/experience space. I consult for global sporting leagues and teams around analysis, ideation and implementation to help deliver creative and innovative fan engagement solutions that grow fan bases and increase revenue opportunities. I'm an award winning marketer and accomplished writer who brings a diverse and creative approach to my consulting work as a result of a career and valuable life experiences gained from the education, sport, music and digital sectors.


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