Parking at the University of Bolton Stadium will never be the same again after Wanderers launched a major overhaul on club-owned car parks during matchdays.

A new Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system has been installed across all stadium car parks, designed to work in tandem with Parking Eye’s secure portal,, or the PayByPhone app.

Supporters will now be asked to register their number plate and payment details online beforehand, meaning that each time they used the car park in the future, the process will be automated.

Pay station kiosks are located outside the club shop and on the main car parks themselves, with the opportunity to pay via contactless card. Currently, the first hour is free – but for those watching a game it will cost £8 to park for more than two hours.

Wanderers announced the new venture before their final pre-season friendly against Huddersfield Town, alongside their aim to continue moving towards a ‘cashless’ stadium with an increased number of contactless payment points in hospitality areas and concourses.

Car park season tickets cost £159 last season and covered every competition – but after they were discontinued, fans will now pay £184 for the 23 home league games, with an extra £8 for each home game in the cups.

Wanderers thanked supporters for their help in accommodating the new parking arrangements and the move towards a cashless stadium, reporting only minor teething troubles at the Huddersfield game.

The club will still take cash in most areas of the stadium for the time being, including the new Fanzone, set to open its doors before the first home game against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend.

But it is unclear whether around a dozen car parking stewards will remain in post during the new-look operation, with some claiming prior to the Huddersfield game that they had only learned of the changes after reading the club’s post on social media.

Club chief executive, Neil Hart, said the move towards a cashless stadium would – once familiar – would create a better experience for supporters.

“Our overall aim is to keep improving the experience for supporters when they visit the University of Bolton Stadium,” he said.

“Continuing the process of going cashless will reduce queue waiting times across the board, ultimately delivering a better match day experience for our supporters. And, for the club, taking cash out of the equation will help to streamline our weekly processes and better invest staff time improving other elements of club operations.

“We are looking forward to welcoming fans back to the stadium over the coming weeks and we hope these simple and straightforward cashless systems, alongside the other upgrades made over the summer, will bring an enhanced experience for all those who visit the stadium”.

Some fans expressed concerns over the reliability of the technology and with signal problems on some phone networks in the area.

“I have no objection in principle to the retail sites within the ground being cashless and can see the advantages from the club’s perspective, but I do think that a choice should always be given,” said Tony Marsh. “I don’t want a cashless society and neither do many other fans.”

“Obviously BWFC is not a members’ club where decisions are taken on the basis of a ballot or vote, but to impose this change without any consideration or feedback from fans whatsoever leaves a sour taste.

“The fact that not even the Supporters’ Trust was consulted beforehand is hard to believe. Many fans prefer cash. Some don’t have bank cards and are refusing to adopt to the imposed change, which will obviously lead to loss of revenue from those fans.”

Kathryn Mather added: “I feel that abandoning cash at BWFC would be a sensible business decision in terms of the cost of cash processing.

“However, in my opinion it does exclude fans who do not use and possibly will never be able to use cards, whether this be due to their age or disability.

“Having met and observed Sharon Brittan and the management team, I do not feel that they would consciously exclude fans.

“But they need to balance the two issues of cost and exclusion. Having disabled family members, I do hope that sense will prevail.”

Meanwhile, Tom Rook said: “Changing to card only at the car park could mean less staff, no counting of money and no security firm to transport it.

“The club will make more money on matchdays and there is no doubt that after providing car registration, it will be quicker to enter the car park for vehicle owners. I am all in favour of going cashless.”