The Guardian: Wolves to become first UK football club to install rail seats in entire stand
Wolves have announced a plan to become the first club in the UK to install rail seats in an entire stand at their ground. The seats will be fitted in Molineux’s Sir Jack Hayward Stand, making it ready to be operated in future as a safe-standing area.
Laurie Dalrymple, Wolves’ managing director, made the announcement at the Premier League club’s end-of-season dinner on Tuesday. He said: “After consultation with South Bank season ticket holders and discussions at fans’ parliament, we are delighted to be in a position to confirm that barrier seating will be installed at Molineux this summer. In April, we sent all supporters who have a season ticket in the South Bank a survey asking them a number of questions about their match-day habits, including whether or not they would be in favour of barrier seating in the stand. An overwhelming majority of 97% told us they would be in favour of the change.”
As well as the rail seats in the Sir Jack Hayward Stand, Wolves added that all seats in the Stan Cullis quadrant would be fitted with an independent barrier, emphasising that both options would fully comply with safety regulations. The club said they had decided to undertake the work this summer, in time for the start of next season, because some of the seats in the South Bank were “coming to the end of their life cycle” and “to mitigate the safety risks of persistent standing”.
Dalrymple added: “For some time, we have been working very closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority and our safety advisory group to evaluate our options, and the results of this survey meant we were happy to move forwards with the work this summer, with no negative implications to the capacity of either stand. It is important to stress that these will not be safe-standing areas, and we will continue to have a management plan in place to ensure compliance with the government’s all-seater policy. The Sports Ground Safety Authority will be closely monitoring Molineux and particularly any new seating arrangements to ensure our continued compliance with the licence conditions.
“Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium was built with a similar solution already installed, but Wolves will become the first club to install rail seating in an existing stadium, and I think that is something we should be very proud of.”
Wolves’ announcement comes 13 months after the former sports minister Tracey Crouch blocked West Brom’s application to trial a safe-standing section at the Hawthorns. Much has changed since then, though, with Crouch bowing to pressure last summer from clubs and supporters to review the requirement for grounds in English football’s top two divisions to be all seated.
She resigned last November in protest over a delay on cutting the maximum stake that can be gambled on fixed odds betting terminals, but her successor, Mims Davies, has since commissioned two further reviews into how legal standing areas can be reintroduced to the Premier League and Championship