Wolves’ venue plan may hit COVID-19 snag



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Wolverhapton Wanderers Stadium update April 2020 Image: Wolverhampton Wanderers

A planning application for a temporary 500-seat stand has been submitted by Premier League football club Wolverhampton Wanderers as it looks to move ahead with plans to expand its Molineux home ground.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, commonly known as Wolves, is a professional association football club based in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England, in UK.

Molineux Stadium is an English football stadium situated in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. It has been the home ground of Wolverhampton Wanderers since 1889 and was the first stadium ever built for use by a Football League club.

Media reports stated that the new seats would sit in between the Sir Jack Hayward and Steve Bull stands. Molineux boasts current capacity of 31,700 and Wolves have long-term plans to increase the capacity to as high as 50,000.

The finished product would be similar to the existing Graham Hughes Stand in the south west corner – albeit a bit smaller as that fits in around 800 spectators.

Media reports further stated that these long-term plans, while still in place, have been put on hold as the club explores more short-term solutions. A temporary stand in between the Sir Jack Hayward and Steve Bull stands was raised at the time and these plans have now been submitted to Wolverhampton City Council.

The plans would result in the existing video wall in that corner of the ground being replaced by a new one that would be located behind an uncovered stand.

With the uncertainty cloud looming large due to the coronavirus menace, a clear picture has still not emerged when work would be able to start if plans are given the nod.

Wolves have played at Molineux since 1889 and the expansion of the stadium has been a much discussed topic since the club returned to the Premier League in 2018. The club wants to take one step at a time when expanding and improving the stadium as opposed to a significant immediate investment.

Wolves’ Head of Marketing Russell Jones admitted in October last year that the chances of work starting in May 2020 was dim and this might now appear to be a non-starter due to COVID-19 spreading rapidly globally.

If the Wolverhampton Council gives the nod, Wolves would like to have the stand completed for the start of the 2020-21 seasons.

The new stand would witness turnstile block five demolished and replaced with more unmanned automatic turnstiles to ‘improve the entry rate’.

Men’s and women’s toilet blocks are also included in the plans, along with a catering unit, while the new video wall would be 1.5m taller than the present one.

Wolves’ long-term vision of a 50,000-seat Molineux remains but this is seen as a way to lodge more supporters in the meantime.

Meanwhile, striker Raul Jimenez is confident Wolves can push for a top-four finish once the campaign resumes.

The Premier League is suspended indefinitely but while avoiding the term entirely has not been ruled out, the aim is for it to return when “safe and appropriate”.

As things stand, Wolves are sixth – five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea – and firmly in the race for a Champions League spot.

And the 22-goal Mexican said, “It’s big for a team that was promoted (two years ago) and this is only our second season in the Premier League. We know that we can do it. We can fight for it and I don’t think we’re going to be disappointed if we don’t do it but now that we see that we can do it, it’s special. It’s incredible to be part of this team, part of this family.”

“We are all working hard to achieve our goal and I’m really enjoying playing with my teammates. Every one of us adds his little piece to what we are doing.”

Jimenez added, “I was really enjoying the season, I know it’s not finished yet and we know that we have to keep fighting for the places that we want.”

Meanwhile, Wolves’ Premier League rival Brighton & Hove Albion has been forced to put on the backburner its plans to expand its home arena Amex Stadium due to the coronavirus scourge.

Brighton plans on raising the capacity of Amex Stadium to 32,500 through the addition of 1,750 seats. The development, which still requires nod from Brighton and Hove City Council, will cost £4m (€4.6m/$5m).

Media reports quoted Executive Director of Amex Stadium Martin Perry as stating, “The planning applications were submitted prior to the coronavirus crisis and therefore are being considered by the council.”

“However, all plans to carry out the work are on hold due to the very obvious financial pressures the club, and football industry, is facing. Our priority at this time is people’s health, protecting jobs at our club and ‘Albion In The Community’, and supporting our owner as best we can.”

Once expansion happens, it will improve Amex’s chances of forming part of any future bid from England to host the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European Championships.

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