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Bolton issue an update on safe standing for fans

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Bolton issue an update on safe standing for fans 18139803

Wanderers are considering a delay to the introduction of safe standing areas at the Toughsheet Stadium after the club missed out on promotion to the Championship.

The Bolton News understands that the board are “looking into the feasibility” of installing rail seating in a section of the ground but those involved stress that no final decision has yet been reached.

Fans were polled in April as to whether they would like to see a safe standing area, with an overall majority of responses thought to be in favour.

The club is keen to add its name to 30 Premier League and EFL clubs who have introduced similar measures since they were given the go-ahead by the Government in 2022. But the costs involved could now mean other capital projects are prioritised.

Wanderers delayed a complete overhaul of the pitch surface last summer to push other projects to the fore, including the introduction of LED advertising boards and new screens. Improvements to the first team pitches at the Lostock training ground have also been discussed.

Defeat in the play-off final means Bolton missed out on around £8-10million of TV sponsorship and prize money, which realistically means that the club will be forced to tighten its belt in some areas next season.

Safe standing had been pencilled in for the start of the 2024/25 season, although the club had not yet decided where in the lower tiers of the stadium it would be placed.

Chief executive Neil Hart said that any supporter who had bought a season ticket in an area affected by the refurbishment would be given “every possible help” to relocate.

“From the perspective of atmosphere, we would like to see safe standing come into the Toughsheet Community Stadium, but it has to be fan-led,” he told The Bolton News in March.

“We are talking to the Supporters Trust at the moment, and they have been brilliant, and they have been very pro us doing it.

“So, what you’ll find now is that we will go out to the supporter base with a survey, it is something we can theoretically move quickly on, and we’d be disposed to do this summer.

“Clearly, the debate as to whether we do or don’t want it, we have a clue as to what the answer will be. I think many fans will want it and, personally, I think it will be additive to the atmosphere.

“We have been out to other clubs who have given us feedback, supporters have enjoyed and embraced it. I will be very clear, this is not a commercial gain for the football club, in fact it is a cost because we have got to install rail seating.

“We have looked at Shrewsbury Town, Lincoln City, I was at the Manchester derby a few weeks ago as well and I felt it really added to the atmosphere. I think that the Toughsheet is perfect for it, and we should be trying to do it as a collective.”

Asked whether the investment would hinge on the division Bolton were in, Hart added: “There are a number of factors we will have to examine.

“Obviously at this point we have two plans in place – one where we are in the Championship and the other where we are in League One. We have to plan for both eventualities because we can’t affect either at the moment.”


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