Future Stadiums & Venues

Wolves to introduce safe standing as part of Molineux upgrade

English soccer club also announce plans for Chinese megastore.

by Joe Levy

Wolves to introduce safe standing as part of Molineux upgrade

English top flight soccer outfit Wolves are set to install safe standing infrastructure at their Molineux home in a move to counteract persistently standing supporters.

By law all soccer stadiums in England’s top two tiers have to be all-seater following after the Hillsborough Tragedy and resultant Taylor Report in 1990.

However, under new legislation, clubs can install seats using the ‘Rail Seat’ technology which locks metallic seats into a set position, thus creating a flow-lane along the row.

Scottish giants Celtic and Spanish top tier side Athletic Bilbao both utilise the rail seating infrastructure.

This legislation, from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), highlights that ‘seats incorporating barriers’ still meet the government’s all-seater law.

Wolves insist that the implementation of this technology is not due to the club’s desire but rather out of necessity.

Molineux experiences persistent standing, especially in the Sir Jack Hayward stand, where 97 per cent of supporters are in favour of rail standing implementation.

Laurie Dalrymple, Wolves’ managing director, told BBC Sport: “This is not about safe standing but I am pleased this revision to the guidelines allows us to do something that permits the fans to be in the stadium and, should they wish to stand, are doing so in a safe environment.

“This is the perfect opportunity for us to meet all of the expectations of the safety guidelines and give our fans what they want.”

A spokesperson for the SGSA added: “We will be working with the club to ensure that the proposed seating arrangements meet the technical specifications within our guidance.

"The club will remain subject to the government's all-seater policy and we will continue to closely monitor the ground and particularly any new seats incorporating barriers to assess compliance with the licence condition."

Elsewhere, Wolves are opening a club megastore in Shanghai, China, near the headquarters of the club’s owners Fosun.

The store’s opening will coincide with Wolves trip to China to take place in the Premier League Asia Trophy pre-season tournament.

Jeff Shi, Wolves chairman, said: “This new megastore is a clear sign of our ambition to become a strong global brand, embracing our fans across the world, and becoming a key part of their everyday life.”

“We see China as a key market for us, both in terms of fan acquisition and also developing the commercial aspirations of the club, and timing the store opening for when the first team and staff are in Shanghai was a natural fit,” added Dalrymple.

Finally, an artist’s impression of a redeveloped Molineux has been released, with the club hoping to raise its capacity to 38,000 in the near future from 31,700.

Dalrymple also pointed towards a future Molineux with a capacity of more than 40,000.

“I am comfortable we could build a stadium to around the mid-40,000s, potentially a bit higher than that.

“Assuming we continue with our on-field aspirations and how we are delivering in that aspect, we would have a football club that could deliver those capacities.”