YORK City are exploring the possibility of incorporating standing areas at the new Community Stadium - with ground-sharers York City Knights "wholeheartedly" backing the idea.

Supporters of the football club have always been able to stand at fixtures during 86 years at their current Bootham Crescent home, but the existing plan is to build an all-seater venue at Monks Cross.

That decision was made as a requirement of accessing financial assistance from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, but Minstermen officials and the project’s other key stakeholders are now considering ways of including safe standing or rail seating at the arena, which will be the new home for the city's professional football and rugby league clubs.

Standing areas are currently permitted in all but the top-two football divisions in England – a level that York City have only plied their trade at for two seasons of their 96-year history when they played the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the old Second Division during the 1970s. But that legislation, introduced in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, is currently subject to an external government analysis.

There is no all-seater criteria, meanwhile, at any level of the game in rugby league.

Rail-seating is now widely used in areas of Europe and allows seats to be locked upright, meaning fans can stand in competitions that permit terrace spectating.

It is understood that any standing area at the new stadium would be situated behind a goal, while The Press believes implementing rail seats over that surface area would add just under £200,000 to the overall building costs.   

Construction at Monks Cross is already advanced ahead of the planned move to the 8,000-capacity stadium next summer, but a statement from City’s board of directors read: “The conditions of the club's Football Stadia Improvement Fund loan stipulate that the new stadium should be all-seater. Those conditions will need to be met for the loan to be converted into a FSIF grant, so any changes to the plan for an all-seater stadium will require an amendment by the FSIF to the terms of their loan.

"The club is aware that the introduction of rail seating and safe standing is a topic of great debate among football fans and in the football industry which has gained momentum in recent times. Discussions have taken place with various key stakeholders about this as a possibility at the new stadium.

"It would be premature to comment further at this stage because those discussions are still on-going."

A Knights statement said: "We wholeheartedly and without a shadow of a doubt support the safe standing initiative.

"It provides a choice to our fans whose game day experience is the most important focus of our club.

"We look forward to future discussions with our stadium partners to progress the concept into reality."

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for culture, leisure and tourism at City of York Council, said: “Safe standing has gained a lot of momentum since the community stadium was first designed, and we’re fully aware of some supporters’ desire to include some at the new stadium.

“I have always been supportive of the principle of safe standing if the necessary agreements can be reached, and have continued to meet with various groups about this.”

Councillor Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said: “We’ve obviously discussed this with York City, and we’re certainly open-minded to any proposals which would make this stadium an even better facility. In the meantime, we’re delighted to see the progress on this exceptional sporting, leisure and community resource.”