LONDON - The Premier League has written to all its clubs - including Liverpool - to see if they would be interested in piloting safe standing.
In what could be a significant step, the clubs have also been asked for their thoughts on the issue as part of a wide-ranging consultation.
Standing was outlawed in the top two divisions after the 1990 Taylor Report, commissioned following the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
However, the questionnaire, seen by Sportsmail and sent to all PL club secretaries, is the strongest indication yet that a return to standing areas may be on the cards.
Calls for the facility have been made by various fans’ groups for a number of years but the issue remains emotive on Merseyside, with the Hillsborough Family Support Group firmly opposed.
However, the Liverpool fans’ group Spirit of Shankly launched a consultation on the matter and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign have said it also supports a full debate.
The new survey attempts to address the issue of fans persistently standing and asks if clubs would be willing to pilot a standing area.
The Premier League declined to comment on the survey but are known to be neutral on the issue and pointed out that it is still an exploratory stage.
Should safe standing be allowed, clubs will not be forced to introduce it. Celtic unveiled rail-seating for 2,600 fans at Parkhead last season and the move is seen as a success.
Advocates say safe standing areas improve the atmosphere, do not carry the risks of the old terraces and, potentially, can make going to games more affordable.
Some believe that providing an area where fans can stand could improve safety levels.
The Premier League initially raised the issue in November and the current survey is part of a feasibility study.
A Premier League spokesman said: ‘Clubs tasked us with scoping out the safety, supporter, technical and legislative issues surrounding standing before further discussions, based on facts.’
Whether a change in law would be needed is one of many elements being examined but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport seems sceptical. A spokesman said: ‘The government has no plans to introduce standing accommodation at grounds covered by the all-seater requirement.’