Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Problem With New Stadiums

With Everton looking set to leave Goodison Park, they will be another team who have moved to new stadiums in recent years. Arsenal, Man City, Southampton, West Ham and Tottenham made the moves in this decade. However, one question is apparent. Have any of these teams actually been successful after the moves?

Arsenal moved from Highbury to the Emirates back in 2006, two seasons after the ‘Invincibles’ season. They have won just three FA Cups and subsequently 3 Community Shields since they moved stadiums, not exactly what the club imagined when they moved a move they thought would take the club forward. What resulted from the stadium move is something the club has yet to recover from. Due to the money spent on the stadium, the club had to balance the books and therefore had to let their best players go. Henry was gone a year into the Emirates’ existence and Vieira left a year before Arsenal left Highbury. Fabregas also was gone four years later in 2011 and Hleb and Gilberto Silva left in 2008. Would they have left the club if Arsenal werent trying to balance the books? Also, the stadium at Highbury had an aura about it. There was an atmosphere there which made teams fear Arsenal but from what i can see and have heard from Arsenal fans, the atmosphere is not there. Whereas if Arsenal had stayed at Highbury, maybe things may have been different and a better atmosphere may have helped performances.

New Stadiums: City of London
New Stadiums like City of London move crowd away from the pitch

New Stadiums lack the crowd presence

Sound familiar Spurs fans? This appears to now be happening to Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham eventually moved to their new stadium during the 18/19 season but like their North London rivals, it appears to have affected them financially. You are now seeing players like Vertonghen and Eriksen tipped to leave with the latter on the verge of an Inter Milan move. Vertonghen is linked with Napoli and both these players appear to be leaving on the cheap with their contracts near an end, with Eriksen’s supposed £8 million one of the deals of recent memory.

Would they have been leaving had Spurs not also be looking to balance the books after around £1 Billion spent on their new stadium. This also may be down to the club’s form , which also has been affected by a new stadium. Towards the end of the White Hart Lane era, Spurs were arguably at their best, with two third place finishes and one second place finish in three seasons. This was down not only to their players but also due to the atmosphere that was there at White Hart Lane. This appears to have been lost at the new stadium and therefore has impacted their form.

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One year ago today, we moved into our new home…

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White Hart Lane was a smaller stadium so therefore more of an atmosphere was created with a louder and more compact arena than their new stadium. The same thing is there for the Welsh National team who moved from the Millenium Stadium to the Cardiff City Stadium and a move to a smaller and more compact stadium has seen the Welsh national team turn their fortunes around and make two European Championships. I have been the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the NFL and it is incredible and loud in the stadium but the atmosphere for football when i have heard it on the television does not appear to be the same as White Hart Lane.

If you want to talk about a new stadium losing its atmosphere, none is more apparent than the London Stadium. The Boleyn Ground (above) was one of my favourite stadiums as the atmosphere there was pretty special. West Ham moved to the London Stadium in 2016 with their one of their best ever seasons taking place in the final season at the Boleyn Ground. They have had a difficult time of it since with the London Stadium really not giving the same experience for fans. From what i have heard from friends who have gone there for a game, they have told me that because of the running track that was there for the Olympics, it means fans are far away from the pitch and this would therefore make it harder foe fans to shout for their team. Had they stayed in Boleyn Ground, the atmosphere may have been there to help West Ham pick up a few more points.

New Stadiums devour old
New Stadiums devour old

As a Liverpool fan, i was very glad when we decided to expand the capacity at Anfield rather than build a new stadiums. The extra few thousand we have added to the stadium has coincided with the best period since the Premier League began and the money we have saved from not building a new stadium has allowed us to buy players such as Fabinho, Keita and Salah as well as buying Van Dijk and Allison from the Coutinho sale. Most importantly, we have also managed to keep the Anfield atmosphere by not moving and this surely has to have played a part with us not losing a game at home at time of writing in over 1000 days. 

In conclusion, it is very apparent that alot of these clubs who move to new stadiums to “take them to the next level” actually go backwards both economically as well as in terms of their results on the pitch. You can see the likes of West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham who have all seen the club go backwards since moving to new stadiums and teams like Liverpool go to the aforementioned next level after expanding the stadium they already had. 

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