Early night: Bolton Wanderers in talks about changing 8pm kick-off restrictions

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Wanderers hope to get permission for earlier kick off times at the University of Bolton Stadium
Wanderers hope to get permission for earlier kick off times at the University of Bolton Stadium

WANDERERS have requested the option to curtail their controversial late kick-off times at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Currently, Bolton are one of a small handful of clubs in the EFL who are restricted by planning law to start midweek league matches at 8pm.

Reading and Stoke City are also bound by similar rules at their respective stadia but Wanderers have confirmed to The Bolton News that they are now in talks with the local authority to allow more flexibility.

Games in the League Cup and Papa John’s Trophy, or those affected by television scheduling have been allowed to kick-off as early as 7pm but many supporters are confused as to why the regulations – set when Bolton Wanderers were in the Premier League – are still in operation.

Club CEO Neil Hart is looking to get some clarity on the club’s options.

“The 8pm kick-offs are a legacy from planning when the stadium was built 25 years ago and it has just stayed in place,” he told us.

“We have engaged in some initial discussions with the council regarding giving us the ability to alter those kick-off times and look at 7.30-7.45pm options.

“Those discussions are ongoing and as soon as we have any conclusion on them, we’ll let the supporters know.”

Wanderers have worked hard to boost the number of younger supporters at games, reducing season ticket prices considerably for 2022/23.

It is hoped the option to pull kick-off times to an earlier time could make a difference for parents who are deciding whether to allow their children to attend matches.

“We have had feedback from fans to suggest it would let younger supporters attend games in midweek and it is a discussion we have had in the boardroom,” he said.

“I think the original issues were from Middlebrook and the traffic flow but personally I don’t see much of a difference between us kicking off at 7.45pm and 8pm. We will try and make it happen but, of course, there are no guarantees.”

Wanderers fans using the Whites Hotel will soon start to see some cosmetic changes as the club’s commercial partnership with Radisson comes into fruition.

A deal with the global hotel group was announced in December which kicked in during the second quarter of 2022.

“The work is ongoing and there have been things like IT infrastructure, raising standards, and a mini refurb that have happened,” explained Neil Hart. “It’s a complex business but we have been in discussion with partners at Radisson this week about the next steps.

“Over the summer period supporters who are using the hotel should see some changes.

“It is a really exciting partnership and we all know Radisson are a global brand with some amazing people in the organisation, moving forward.

“But as I say every time, we will continue to own and operate the hotel. This is a layered-in commercial partnership and we are really looking forward to it now.”

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