WANDERERS have officially shelved plans to introduce safe standing at the Toughsheet Stadium next season.

Chairman Sharon Brittan has confirmed to The Bolton News that the project has been put on hold until the Whites can guarantee Championship football.

As we revealed in March, the club held talks with the Supporters’ Trust to gauge whether rail seating would be welcomed, and an official survey sent out the following month produced an unequivocal positive response.

Although nearly 15,000 season tickets have already been sold for 2024/25, Wanderers were confident they could move the relevant fans to their preferred part of the stadium without much trouble.

But after missing out on promotion in the play-off final last month, a decision has been made to delay the introduction of safe standing until 2025/26 at the earliest.

Championship football would have been worth an extra £8-10m in TV sponsorship and central payments from the EFL.

The Bolton board are keen to boost the playing budget this season to enable Ian Evatt’s side the best possible chance to get promotion in a division which is likely to include bigger spenders than it did in 2023/24.

They have green-lit an overhaul of the training ground, including a new first team training pitch and an extended gym which will enable more players to use the facility at the same time.

But Ms Brittan maintained that prioritising the team made sense, with manager Ian Evatt and sporting director Chris Markham now actively pursuing signings to strengthen the squad.

“Safe standing will go on hold until we are in the Championship,” said the Wanderers chairman. “The fans want it, we want to do it, but we have spent a huge amount of money on capital expenditure and I have to focus this season on getting the team fit and ready for promotion.

“That really has to be the aim for us now.

“There are some items we are doing – there is another pitch at Lostock, the gym at Lostock, a few other areas too. But the absolute focus for us right now is on first team football and promotion, giving Ian and Chris everything they need to get the job done.

“We are going to be competitive in League One. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

The playing surface at the Toughsheet Stadium is currently being reseeded but replacing the entire pitch system – an extensive plan which was paused last summer when other capital projects were given preference – appears to have been placed on hold again.

Wanderers have confirmed that three kits will be released later this month, manufactured by Macron, with the kits design having been selected by a fans’ online survey.