LONDON: Shrewsbury Town are to go ahead with a plan to introduce a safe-standing area at their ground after a successful fundraising drive amid a campaign to allow fans to return to the terraces.
Clubs in England's top two divisions have been legally required to have all-seater grounds since the measure was recommended by a report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which saw 96 Liverpool fans killed in crushes caused by over-crowding in a standing area.
But as Shrewsbury -- who plan to install nearly 600 rail seats at their New Meadow home -- have not played above England's third tier since the legislation was brought in, they can become the first club in England and Wales to put a standing section in a previously all-seater stadium.
Widely used in Germany, rail seats are flipped up and locked in place when fans are using them as standing areas, and there is a safety barrier that separates each row to prevent surges.
"We are delighted that Shrewsbury Town will be the flagship club in addressing this issue, which is so important to so many fans," said Shrewsbury's chief executive Brian Caldwell.
"We will now continue the process to introduce rail seating... and we hope to have supporters watching home games from the safe-standing area before the end of the season."
Citing the successful introduction of a section of rail seating at Celtic Park, safe-standing campaigner Jon Darch said: "Celtic have shown that it works in Scotland.
"Now Shrewsbury are going to show that it will work in otherwise all-seater grounds in England and Wales, too."
Fans have been calling for a relaxation of the all-seater requirement for years and a the campaign was boosted when Liverpool fans voted in favour of rail seats at Anfield.
The Premier League earlier this year wrote to its 20 clubs asking if they would be interested in taking part in a trial to reintroduce standing sections.