All clubs in the top two tiers of English football could be allowed to introduce licensed safe standing areas next season.
UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he was minded to change the existing all-seater policy to enable all Premier League and Sky Bet Championship clubs to introduce safe standing sections under strict conditions, following a pilot involving five clubs in the second half of the current campaign.
A firm decision is subject to a final independent evaluation of the pilot confirming the findings of an interim report, the minister said.
Huddleston added: “The Government’s approach has been driven by safety considerations throughout and this will continue to be our priority.
“We are not complacent about spectator safety, nor are we complacent about the safety policies that have served spectators well for many years. We will continue to work closely with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, football clubs, the football governing bodies and local authorities to ensure that spectator safety remains paramount.”
The move comes at a time when crowd safety and management are in the spotlight following a series of pitch invasions at end-of-season games in the Premier League and the EFL.
A Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for 24 weeks and given a 10-year football banning order for assaulting Sheffield United forward Billy Sharp.
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with a fan after a pitch invasion at the end of his side’s match against Everton at Goodison Park last week, and Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted by Manchester City supporters as he tried to leave the pitch at the end of Sunday’s Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium.