Many big all-seater football stadiums may have to be redesigned at a cost of millions because supporters insist on standing during matches.
This emerged as a report on safety at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground expressed concern that people could fall forward because there was no safety barriers or other device to hold on to.

A source at the Football Licensing Authority said the problem of fans standing in areas where they ought to sit was particularly acute in sections set aside for away supporters, where it seemed to be a tradition. He said: "There is a wider issue with away supporters in any ground. They always stand, so changing the environment in which they watch could be the future."

Building has learned that the licensing authority has identified eight Premiership and Nationwide football clubs where away fans persistently offend. It is understood that the licensing authority will not publish the information or name the clubs, but will instead pass the information on to local authorities and to the Football Association. They would then be expected to act.

A source close to the licensing authority said that it was looking at a two-pronged approach. The source said: "The FLA wants to identify and clamp down on clubs whose fans are persistent offenders. But it also wants to look for a way forward. Designing changes to the seating areas occupied by away fans is an option."

The source said that the authority would work with the clubs that have the worst records.

A working group made up of the licensing authority, police and safety authorities will meet during the summer to discuss the issue and possible design solutions.

Licensing authority director Keith Sears said that it would ask its own architect and engineer to advise on any proposed changes to stadiums.

It is a big issue. Ideas being looked at include safety barriers

Colin Fearns, Birse

  • Contractor HBG has admitted health and safety offences five years after the death of a worker on a central London site.

    Agency worker Osmund Kamara died in February 1999 after he was struck on the head by a concrete lintel on a site at Old Broad Street.

    An HSE spokesperson said that HBG would be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 23 April.