English Premier League football club Chelsea has completed a number of renovation projects at Stamford Bridge ahead of the new season, with the installation of rail seating among the upgrades.

Chelsea has installed rail seating in the Matthew Harding Lower and Shed End Upper and Lower tiers of Stamford Bridge. The safe standing zone will replace previous seats in those sections of the stadium.

Chelsea said it has opted to install the rail seating now in order to be ready and prepared for any future government decision on the introduction of safe standing in the Premier League. Last week, Manchester United debuted rail seating at Old Trafford, while Manchester City and Liverpool are among other Premier League clubs with plans to introduce safe standing areas.

Standing has been outlawed in the top two leagues of English football since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. 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 completed a significant renovation of Stamford Bridge’s West Stand Upper as part of the club’s Westview project. The project is the biggest development to Stamford Bridge since 2001 and includes a complete refurbishment of the concourse in the upper tier.

New 360-degree bars and a new food court will form part of the concourse experience, which will provide views of London. The match-day experience will also be enhanced with three new big screens in the stands at Stamford Bridge, which will be viewable from all seat locations.

In addition, all seats have been replaced with brand-new padded seating, while a wheelchair accessible platform with four wheelchair and personal assistant places has been fitted. Chelsea has also renamed the Centenary Hall in the Shed End after Paul Canoville, the first black player to be selected for the men’s first team.

Stamford Bridge is set to operate at full capacity for the new season after all COVID-19 restrictions on fan attendance in England were lifted. Fans will need to wear masks in indoor areas of the stadium but this will not be a requirement when seated or walking outside the stadium.

Chelsea announced back in March that Stamford Bridge would be operating as a cashless venue from this season onwards. Fans will also be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (with both doses received at least 14 days prior to the match) or proof of a negative Lateral Flow Test (from age 11 and over) carried out within 48 hours of the fixture kicking off.

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