Barrow AFC

Increasing capacity with innovative seating solutions

With Barrow AFC having recently returned from the National League, EFL seating criteria guidelines needed to be met ahead of the upcoming season.

To meet ground grading regulations, the club enlisted Stadia by GL events UK to upgrade their stadium, resulting in the addition of 890 seats, including a covered grandstand and an elevated wheelchair viewing platform.

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Founded on July 16th, 1901, The Bluebirds began playing competitive football in the Lancashire League at its first home ground The Strawberry. Before settling into their current home at Holker Street, Barrow AFC moved twice before, during the early 1900s.

Since the club’s foundation, it has seen many trials and tribulations, most recently finding itself back in the National League after 48 years. Following promtion back to the football league, Stadia by GL events UK was delighted to have gotten the call to work on upgrading the stadium’s home and away sections, ready for the start of the season.

Football League compliant

To meet EFL criteria, Barrow AFC were required to have 2,000 covered seats, having only 1,130 prior to the project. To bring the club in line with other teams in League Two, Barrow chose to purchase a covered spectator grandstand to increase stadium capacity.

In collaboration with their disabled supporters’ association, the club also decided to add an elevated wheelchair viewing platform for fans. This has already proved a hit with supporters who previously would not have come to games due to accessible viewing limitations.

Innovative solutions

Another challenge that presented itself prior to the build was the away end terrace. Due to its age, it had started to crumble in places, consequently creating a safety hazard for fans. With the ground existing since pre-Victorian period, it was deemed unsuitable for heavy groundworks.

However, the lightweight solution we provided meant that no piling was required, which would have been required to a depth of around 15m; incurring disruption and additional cost. The eventual solution put forward to Barrow AFC, was to install a reinforced concrete raft. As a result, this navigated the need to pile into the ground. Thus, time, cost and safety concerns were alleviated.

Getting game ready

The club faced a tight 15-week window between their last league game and the start of the new season in order to complete the project. During this period, they had to undertake a series of substantial tasks.

This included many deliverables. Starting with the removal of their bar and toilet containers and the demolition of a substantial 4m high terrace structure. Next came the installation of necessary utilities and a new concrete raft base. Thereafter, the construction of grandstands, installation of lighting, and the transformation of the venue back into a fully functioning stadium. All in preparation for the first game of the new football season.

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We spoke to many suppliers, but Stadia by GL events were the only one that could gurantee readiness for the new season. The team were solutions based, and everyone we dealt with was knowledgeable and professional.

Frazer StewartBarrow AFC

Key project deliverables
2 x Covered spectator grandstands
1 x Two-row small spectator grandstand
1 x Accessible viewing platform

One benefit that the club saw almost right away was the ability to offer more tickets to visiting fans. This increased the typical away allocation by around fifty percent. As a result of the 890-seats being added at Holker Street, supporters around the ground benefit from upgraded facilities and improved sightlines.

The success of this project was largely down to the fantastic communication between the club and Stadia by GL events. As a result, the club succeeded in delivering its largest infrastructure project for around 30 years, without compromising safety or quality.

Frazer Stewart of Barrow AFC commented, “We spoke with many possible suppliers and went through a huge range of design options. There were three main reasons we chose Stadia by GL events. 

The lightweight design, which removed the requirement for piling foundations. The speed of installation, as they were the only supplier that could guarantee readiness for the start of the season. And their absolute professionalism.

“Everybody we dealt with was extremely knowledgeable, and helpful. The team were solutions based and more than willing to work through any problems.


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