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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First base 7: Standing room only!

Date: 27/7/2004

We would welcome your views on the topic of standing at stadia. Please read on and see news item...

Kate Hoey, Minister for Sport in the DCMS has recently opened up the debate about providing standing room in our modern stadia. The Observer editorial of Sunday 19 February ascribes her advocacy as misguided. The disenfranchisement of the 'ordinary soccer fan' (I assume that's who she thinks she has been listening to) is a far more complex issue than selling 'cheap tickets' for standing room only. Her assertions discredit the enormous improvements in ground safety and design in the post-Taylor era. It is also a dishonouring of those who have died in stadia tragedies.

To suggest that the Minister reads the harrowing narrative account of "The Day of the Hillsborough Disaster" (edited by Rogan Taylor, Andrew Ward and Tim Newburn) is, of course, too simple a response. Hoey has raised a number of important issues in her plea. They need to be considered rationally and dispassionately.

As a raw experience nothing can beat standing on the terraces. In Bolton's fabulous all-seater Reebok Stadium (see First Base Edition 5 and News) during Yeovil's third round FA Cup tie, I along with 4,000 other yokels stood the whole game shouting and singing '"drink up thee cider" ... but in a less good natured crowd, in a more formidable environment ...

So when the cheer leader in the Somerset smock stood up to sing ... "if you all love Yeovil stand up" ... perhaps we should have reflected on a history of tragedy that had resulted in the new generation of comfortable, safe, and aesthetic stadia.

Academic Intolerence

The Sunday sports press on 19 February carried a report that the F A Cup had lost its appeal and there was proof that crowds were in decline, fans were preferring to watch other soccer tournaments and that there appeared to be a high degree of disaffection.

The reports were reflecting upon a study that appeared in The Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society Volume 111 of January 2001 by Stefan Szymanski.

His study provides some interesting insights into a series of almost 1,000 FA Cup games. The conclusions of the study are genuinely important and relevant BUT ... when you have to struggle through language as bum clenchingly awful as this following quotation it makes you wonder what it's all about ...

"The models were estimated with heteroscedastic consistent errors. In the case of the Tobit model estimation a multiplicative model of heteroscedasticity was adopted." etc, etc, etc ... what do you think Brian?

P.S. Tell the fans of Yeovil, Tranmere, Kingstonian, Dagenham and Redbridge, Canvey Island, Wycombe, Hereford, et al that the Cup has lost its glory and see what response you get ...

Dr Terry Stevens

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