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Arsenal’s reasons to be cheerful 7: The ground

The Emirates is a great stadium – but that’s not the half of it.   The benefits we have got from the planning and organisation that went into the new stadium are easy to forget – so here are some:

The research was done properly.   No one really knew if Arsenal would fill a 60,000 stadium game after game.  After all, when Highbury was a 65,000 stadium, it was rarely full, and when it was reduced to a 38,000 seater stadium it wasn’t seriously seen as a problem.   So Arsenal did an experiment – for two years the Euro games were played at Wembley – and each time over 70,000 turned up – proof (if it were needed) that there was a serious desire for tickets for Arsenal matches.

The funding was wonderful.  The money to build to stadium was borrowed at particularly attractive rates of interest, which mean that even with the repaymens Arsenal makes more profit per game than it ever did at Highbury, where it owned the ground.   What’s more, the sale of Highbury and the surrounding properties will boost the club’s income further – and that money hasn’t even been accounted for yet.

The views are great.   Because I can’t get to every single game I’m a silver member – which means I get to sit all over the ground, and I have to say where ever I go, the views are terrific.  And at many large grounds that is certainly not the case.  Go to Ajax and sit up high, and you can’t even work out who the players are.   And that’s a smaller (although similar) ground.

The crowd noise is so much better.   Of course opposition supporters make fun of it, but it is much noisier at the Emirates than it was at Highbury.  One factor to remember is that the sound is different in different parts of the ground – some parts of the lower tier are much quieter than in the upper.

It is the envy of everyone.   Consider our rivals.

Man U has a big ground, but much of it is horribly uncomfortable, and is in effect little more than chais put on the old terraces.  The view from parts of the upper stands is awful.
Chelsea still has the old small ground – Mathew Harding did his best for the club, but it desperately needs rebuilding to bring it up to 21st century standards

Tottenham’s ground is what people like to call “compact” – hemmed in, small, and a bugger to get to and from.   They would love to be able to move, but with no success, £25 million a year spent on transfers and a lack of major funding, no one is that sure about the finance.

Liverpool too are desperate to move, but couldn’t get the money together even before the current credit crunch and now they are totally unsure how to handle the situation.   Indeed it looks like Everton are going to move before Liverpool

Man City were thought to have had the best deal – a nice new stadium that was given to them for nothing (in fact you and I, the taxpayers, paid for it).   Man City only pay any rent at all when the crowd is over 35,000.   So financially they have done well, but in essence the place is a gross abuse of public funding.  A huge improvement on Main Road, but then Plymouth Argyle is an improvement on Main Road.

Coming up in part 8 – why it’s so good that Wenger won’t spend billions.

Read the Reasons to be Cheerful from the very start.  click here   Arsenal’s reasons to be cheerful (part 1)

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