English Premier League football club Chelsea has announced a series of planned upgrades at Stamford Bridge, with new rail seating set to be installed at the stadium for the 2021-22 season.
Subject to approval from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and its Safety Advisory Group (SAG), the rail seating will be fitted in the Matthew Harding Lower and Shed End Upper and Lower tiers.
The change will result in just over 500 seats being lost in the areas concerned but Chelsea said the decision has been taken now ahead of any future government decision to introduce safe standing across the Premier League.
The announcement has been made following months of consultation with the SGSA and Hammersmith and Fulham Council, as well as independent architects to find the optimum solution for the stadium.
Season ticket holders who wish to move seats from the affected areas will be able to apply when the renewal period opens, information on which will be provided over the coming weeks.
Chelsea’s announcement comes after Premier League rival Manchester City last month detailed plans to install 5,620 rail seats at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester United has also received approval for a barrier seating trial, while Wolverhampton Wanderers last season became the first Premier League club to install seats incorporating barriers in an existing stadium.
Standing has been outlawed in the top two leagues of English football since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. However, there has been increasing efforts to return safe standing, which has received provisional support from the Football Association (FA), Premier League and English Football League (EFL), as well as from fan groups.
Chelsea has also detailed plans to significantly renovate the West Stand Upper at Stamford Bridge as part of the club’s new Westview project.
Westview, which Chelsea said marks the biggest development to the West Stand since 2001, will form part of the club’s hospitality offering and will include a complete refurbishment of the concourse in the upper tier.
Two new 360-degree bars and a new food court offering will form part of the experience, with fans to be able to take in views across London. The match-day experience will also be enhanced with three new big screens, ensuring seats in all locations can view screen content for the first time.
All seats in the section will be replaced with new padded seating, while a wheelchair-accessible platform has also been installed with four wheelchair and personal assistant places.
The announcement of the stadium upgrades was made as Chelsea detailed plans to freeze season ticket prices for the 2021-22 campaign, with a new model to now be adopted from 2022-23. The freeze will mean season ticket holders in general admission areas will pay the same as in 2011-12.