Wolves are set to become the first Premier League club to install seats incorporating barriers in an existing stadium.
The club has announced that all seats in the Sir Jack Hayward Stand will be replaced this summer by a new barrier seating solution, while all seats in the Stan Cullis quadrant will be fitted with an independent barrier.
Both options will fully comply with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s(SGSA) most recent guidance, Wolves said.
Current government policy prevents any form of standing area in the top two tiers of English football, however the latest edition of the SGSA’s Green Guide contains guidelines on the use of ‘seats incorporating barriers’ and ‘seats with independent barriers’.
It has been confirmed by the SGSA that, provided certain strict conditions are met, both independent barriers and seats incorporating barriers can be licensed as compliant with the government’s all-seater policy.
With a number of seats in the South Bank identified as coming to the end of their life cycle, and with a desire to mitigate the safety risks of persistent standing, the club said it has taken the opportunity to install barrier seating this summer, in time for the beginning of the 2019/20 season.
Managing director Laurie Dalrymple said:
After consultation with South Bank season ticket holders and discussions at Fan’s 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 per cent told us they would be in favour of the change.
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.
Dalrymple stressed that these will not be safe-standing areas, and the club will continue to have a management plan in place to ensure compliance with the government’s all-seater policy. He added:
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.
Of course, 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.
Image: Wolves trialled rail seating options this season.