New Stadium Fever?
I was having a good look at Tottenham’s proposal for a new stadium overlapping their current plot at White Hart Lane last night and my brain started to tick. However difficult these proposals appear to be (and indeed I hope they go through) it seems Spurs are not alone in their ambitions and indeed there are a glut of club’s trying to relocate from their traditional homes from all rungs of the English football ladder.
Where the Premier League is concerned Arsenal, Middlesbrough Stoke, Wigan, Sunderland, Bolton, Manchester City and Hull have all relocated in recent times with success. Albeit the Gunners are carrying a heavy debt for next 15-20 years and the JJB is rarely close to capacity games involving a spherical ball.
Below is a brief look at future plans for other current top-flight clubs.
In June 2008, Portsmouth announced spectacular plans for a 36,000 seater stadium on Horsea island that included housing and an exhibition/concert hall. The estimated cost of this was a princely £600 million, about two thirds the price of Wembley. All in all, it was a ridiculous pipe dream and never really looked like getting off the ground. I feel for the fans because Fratton Park is still decades away from Premiership standard. The good news however, is that the club have now reverted to a plan that was in the pipeline a few years ago by where they would rotate the pitch 90 degrees and extend the Fratton end while building a new ‘end’ stand behind what is currently the north stand. Once these stands are built the recently covered Milton end will be demolished and replaced with a new side stand. This will take the capacity of Fratton to just over 30,000.
Liverpool’s move to Stanley Park is also subject to delay, although this time at least these plans are realistic and are a vast improvement to the original new stadium plans for the same site that resembled something similar to Arsenal’s Emirates stadium. The only thing wrong with Liverpool’s plans is that they should have been submitted about 10 years earlier. For all the wonderful history of the Anfield ground, a capacity of 45,000 is not even close to what a club of that size requires. When Liverpool do eventually move it will be worth the wait it’s just a case of while their American owners are in power and the current economical constraints the question is ‘just how long will it take?’
Chelsea are another club that have mooted about moving to a larger stadium. Looking at Stamford Bridge today nothing remains of that intimidating ovular-shaped hovel with its broken concrete and lack of protection from the weather. Taking this into account, I don’t think any of the ‘real’ Blues fans would be remotely interested in ‘upping sticks’. They already have a completely rebuilt modern ground with the unique Chelsea Village adjoining one side of the ground. Other points to consider include ‘Will Roman stick around long enough to see it through?’, ‘How much would that cost in London?’ and ‘Would Chelsea even fill much more than what they have now?’ Probably a non-starter.
In June this year the report will be due in reference to the public enquiry over Everton’s proposed move to Kirkby. Although the move from the ramshackle Goodison Park is only four miles, this would mean that the club would move out of the current Liverpool city boundaries and into the borough of Knowsley. This was clearly unpopular with a significant portion of Toffees as 41 percent voted against the move in a ballot held over the matter. Everton had previously failed in a bid to move to Kings Dock and even had talks with representatives of Liverpool F.C about a proposed ground share as Stanley Park. Unsurprisingly the latter got nowhere and they failed to put up the funding for King’s Dock. Funding however seems to be the key to the Kirkby proposal due to this being a joint venture with Tesco that would include a large supermarket next to the ground. Should the Kirkby move be given the green light, Everton will finally have a home fitting for a big club in the 21st century with a capacity of around 50,000.