English Premier League football club Wolverhampton Wanderers has today (Wednesday) announced that its Molineux stadium will continue to operate at reduced capacity “for a number of games” after surveys found “severe structural deficiencies” to the temporary Graham Hughes Stand.
The stand, located between the Sir Jack Hayward and Billy Wright stands, was closed ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season and Wolves has now said it will need to be rebuilt to make it safe for supporters.
Wolves has been working with event solution specialists Arena, which installed the temporary seating in 2018, and which also undertake the regular routine inspections of the stand which flagged up the issues in July.
A spokesperson from Arena’s seating division said the scope of work was bigger than initially identified. Arena added: “Arena has been working with Wolves for many years, and carry out regular inspections on the Graham Hughes Stand to provide reports and certification of it being safe for use, including ahead of the final match of the 2020-21 season, against Manchester United.
“After the season had concluded, we performed a routine inspection of the Graham Hughes Stand that flagged a point of structural concern requiring further inspection. Specialist structural teams were brought in to investigate further, and these surveys uncovered severe structural deficiencies to the pre-existing sub-structure, which was underneath the equipment we supplied in 2018. This identified the need to replace, rather than repair, the whole support structure for the grandstand to make it safe for fans.
“Upon receiving this news in July, the club commissioned a complete overhaul to the stand to ensure that the entire structure remains safe and compliant for the foreseeable future. The design process was extended to accommodate the extended scope of work, and this design procurement period is now close to completion.
“Unfortunately, the availability of materials due to combined Brexit and COVID-19 influences has further extended the delivery programme. We are fully committed to supporting Wolves to complete this installation as quickly as possible to get fans back into the grandstand.”
Wolves’ head of operations, Steve Sutton, said: “We are disappointed to communicate an additional delay to the re-opening of the Graham Hughes Stand for supporters, but the scale of work needed to make it safe is much greater than first thought.
“Since the deficiencies were flagged to us by Arena in July, we have done everything we can to try to ensure the work to fix the stand would be a quick and smooth process, however the scale of the work has increased over time and the global supply chains have been incredibly prohibitive.
“Our number one priority is always the safety of our supporters, and now we must support Arena to ensure the necessary work is done as quickly and efficiently as possible to comply with all safety and UEFA guidelines, and then we can welcome supporters back into the stand as soon as possible.”