2009: A LOOK AT ENGLISH YEAR IN STADIUMS

2009 has been another difficult year for football clubs as the effects of the global financial crisis have taken a significant toll on clubs up and down the country. Off-the-field events have dominated the news as many clubs, large and small are facing financial meltdown following the collapse of television money and advertising revenue.

Bold redevelopment and investment plans have been shelved as clubs have struggled to meet standard operational running costs causing many sleepless nights for fans, chairmen and even players alike.

As early as March, Portsmouth had to scrap plans of a new £600million, 45,000-seater stadium due to lack of available funds and have since shelved plans for small-scale redevelopments of their existing ground Fratton Park.  The financial difficulties experienced by Watford have dashed any hopes of redeveloping Vicarage Road for the foreseeable future as they need to find an extra £5.5m to cover cash flow requirements to the end of June 2010.

Struggling Newcastle United and even mega-rich Chelsea are actively investigating the potential for additional revenue from selling the naming rights to their respective stadiums much to the disdain of countless fans.

However it is not all doom and gloom as many clubs are still keen to press on with stadium expansion in search of potential lucrative revenues. Cardiff City opened their striking new 27,000-seater stadium in July at a credit-crunch beating cost of £45million.

In July, Bristol City announced plans for a new 30,000-seater stadium. The £65million venue will comprise of four separate stands and have the potential to expand its capacity to 42,000 – the number of seats required to host World Cup matches if England is successful in its bid to stage the competition in 2018.

Spurs have also submitted their bid and plans to build a new 56,000-seater stadium and hope to be in their new home for 2012. The state of the art stadium will boast an impressive 63 row single-tier stand in an effort to create the most atmospheric stadium in Europe.

Other prospective host cities have tabled plans to redevelop their facilities but have not met much success. Everton’s ambition of moving to a new home in Kirkby appear to be over after the government rejected a planned £400million stadium and retail development in November. To make matters worse Liverpool flatly rejected any possibility of sharing a new ground with their neighbours and rivals despite struggling to find backers for their own new stadium which has been put on hold indefinitely.

Hopefully, 2010 should be a more encouraging year for off-field developments as the supposed green shoots of recovery begin to sprout in the investment market and trickle down to football clubs across the country.

Posted on 31/12/2009