WANDERERS are offering supporters the chance to decide whether safe standing is introduced to the Toughsheet Stadium from next season, The Bolton News can exclusively reveal.

The club is discussing whether to portion off a section of one of the lower tiers to accommodate standing fans for the first time since the ground opened as an all-seater venue in 1997.

An online questionnaire will be sent out to club members in the coming weeks to poll opinion, along with ongoing conversations with the Bolton Wanderers Supporters’ Trust, but with previous straw polls indicating the fanbase would be fully behind the changes, it seems likely that Wanderers will implement safe standing in some fashion from the 2024/25 campaign onwards.

Previous ownership at Bolton had refused to discuss safe standing areas on the basis that structural issues at the stadium would make the cost inefficient, however chief executive Neil Hart has now confirmed that the current configuration of seating and concourses will not mean major work is required to fit the modern rails.

Thirty clubs from the Premier League to League Two have already either integrated safe standing or sought to gain a license to do so from the start of next season.

After the Taylor Report in the light of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989, it was recommended that all new stadia moved to an all-seater model. From August 1994 all top-flight grounds were required to phase out standing areas.

Shrewsbury Town were the ‘trailblazers’ for safe standing in the EFL, introducing a section in 2018 as part of a governmental trial at the then-Montogomery Waters Stadium. Wanderers have already had discussions with the Shropshire club about how they have handled the process, and also spoken to League One alumni Lincoln City on their experience of making the changes at the LNER Stadium.

Cardiff, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were given permission to trial safe standing at the start of 2022, which led to a report from the Department of Culture and Sport that stated: “Standing areas did not appear to encourage or increase the likelihood that spectators would behave in ways posing a safety risk.”

Brentford, QPR and Wolves joined the ‘early adopters’ from the start of the 2022/23 season and UEFA approved the use of rail seating in European competitions later that year.

Since then, a total of 30 clubs across the four divisions have successfully applied for safe standing areas or indicated that they will introduce safe standing in the foreseeable future.

According to the StandUnited website, which has campaigned for the introduction of standing areas at Sheffield United, they include: Aston Vlla, Bournemouth, Brentford, Burnley, Chelsea, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Tottenham, Wolves, Birmingham, Cardiff, Norwich, QPR, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, Barnsley, Derby, Lincoln, Oxford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury, Wimbledon and Wrexham. Everton have also incorporated safe standing into their new stadium being built at Bramley Moor Dock.

Wanderers are keen to stress that fan feedback will lead any changes they make – and that anyone affected in the area they potentially deem best-suited to safe standing who has already purchased a season ticket will be offered every assistance possible in either switching to a standing ticket, or to another area of the ground.