Safe standing at football grounds is moving up the agenda at Westminster, with MPs set to discuss the issue later this month after 100,000 people signed a petition fore a Parliamentary debate.

The petition calls on the Government to lift the existing ban on safe standing areas in the top two tiers of English football.

It’s an issue that the Liberal Democrats have long supported – in fact we were the first to adopt safe standing as our party policy and it is encouraging to see that cross-party support is growing following fantastic campaigning by supporters groups.

Many clubs in the Premiership and Championship have expressed an interest in safe standing but aren’t allowed to trial it. West Brom’s recent application to pilot a safe-standing scheme at The Hawthorns in the 2018/19 season was rejected.

As a liberal, it seems obvious to me that the Government shouldn’t get in the way of fans and clubs who want to go ahead with safe standing - which can offer supporters more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets. Modern football is expensive to watch, and safe standing can help to make sure the average fan is not priced out of the national game.

Now I absolutely appreciate concerns about standing in football grounds. It’s crucial to understand that safe standing is not a return to the terraces of the 1980s. There are several options for safe standing areas, but ‘rail seating’ commonly used in Europe sees a safety barrier and flip down seat on every other row or step, so the areas can be changed from seats to standing areas.

It’s an issue that has come up locally too, with Oxford United exploring the idea of installing safety rail sections in parts of the Kassam Stadium, with support from the majority of the Oxford United Safety Advisory Group.

But the problem is that if Oxford United and other clubs in League One introduce a safe standing area, those areas won’t be able to be used if the clubs secure promotion to the Championship where safe standing is banned.

Clubs like Oxford United that are listening to fans should not be penalised if they get promoted. That’s why the Government should scrap the ban on safe standing areas in the top two flights of English football.

For me, safe standing is an idea whose time has come. It has widespread fan support, can be done safely and offers benefits in terms of atmosphere, choice and ticket prices.

All eyes will be on government ministers when Parliament debates this issue next month.