By Walter Broeckx
Some people who are not happy with the current way of things over the last seasons dismiss sometimes the impact of the new stadium on Arsenal. They use lines like: “we are Arsenal so we are entitled to win things” and that is the end of it.
Now there is no denying the fact that since we moved from Highbury and went to our new stadium we haven’t won any trophies yet. We came close on a couple of occasions and certainly last season we came very very close. And maybe this is what led to a lot of disappointment.
But what can we say about building a new stadium and moving to a new ground? Does it has any effect on a team? The only way to find out was to have a look at teams from the EPL who have been building a new stadium in the last 15 years or so. And I could find 5 clubs. And I will leave Manchester City out of this as they didn’t build their new ground but it was erected for the Commonwealth games in Manchester and the football club didn’t actually funded the build. Neither did I, but I can imagine some of you living in the UK did pay for it. (Yes, and I resent every single solitary penny of my tax money that went on it. I want a refund now! Editor. – sorry get a bit carried away on that one).
The first Premier League club to build a new stadium was Sunderland in 1997. Roker Park had a capacity of some 22,500 people and the new stadium with the name Stadium of Light has a capacity of 49,000 people. In fact the last game in their old stadium Roker Park was the last game of them in the PL in 1997.
They went down from the Premiership while building the stadium. But in 1999 they came back to the PL only to go down again in 2003. And so it went further on up in 2005, down in 2006, up in 2007 and they still are in the PL from then on. In Dutch they call this an elevator club. A club that goes up and down all the time.
But all in one can only say that since moving there and this is now some 14 years ago they didn’t have much success because the number of trophies since 1997 = 0.
Around the same time Derby County left their old Baseball Ground with a capacity of 18.300. Their last game there was against Arsenal and we won 3-1 in 1997. They then moved to Pride Park with a capacity of 33,597. But did it bring them any success on the field? Well not exactly as they finished in mid table most of the time until 2002 when they went down to the Premiership. But they came back in 2006 but only to go down again in 2007. And they still are out of the PL since then. So another team that has build a new home and since then has left us for lower leagues. Number of trophies won since 1997 = 0.
Let us go South and visit one of the most strange stadiums I have seen on TV. I never went to The Dell in Southampton but it was such a strange stadium. The capacity was only 15,200 and their last game was a 3-2 win against Arsenal on 19/05/2001. With Matt Le Tissier scoring the winner.
And then they went to St. Mary’s in the next season with a capacity of 32,689. And they stayed in the PL until the end of the season 2003-2004 when they went down to the Premiership. Worse was yet to come because in 2009 they went in administration and got points deducted and even went down to League One, the third tear in English football. But they went back to the Championship in 2010 and still are there for the moment.
But again not a very successful story after moving to the new stadium and no trophies won since building the stadium.
Let us move on to Leicester City who played their games at Filbert Street until the last game in 2002 when they beat Tottenham 2-1. Filbert Street another relict of ancient football history with a small capacity of some 22,000 seats. And they went to their new ground (then called the Walker Stadium) the King Power stadium with a capacity of 32,500.
But while building the ground they went down to the Championship and later in October 2002 they also went in to administration. But in 2003 they came back to the PL but only to go back down in 2004. And things became even worse as in 2008 they went down to League One. But they managed to get back in the Championship in 2009.
And well the fifth club is Arsenal. And yes like I said we didn’t win anything since moving to the Emirates. But when looking at those other clubs who tried to do the same thing we did and seeing the fact that two of them went into administration and the other went up and down the leagues it tells me that what we have been achieving since going to the Emirates is not far from a miracle.
If we would have followed the other clubs who did what we did we would have gone up and down or even gone bankrupt. But we didn’t. We stayed competitive all those years. We played great football and came close on a few occasions. We played in the Chamions League all those years. Something those other clubs can only dream about.
So for those who want to get rid of our manager : just think what could have happened if we didn’t have him during those years? We could be (with all due respect) a Sunderland, a Leicester or a Southampton (thanks for producing Walcott and AOC by the way).
But our manager kept us at our current level with no money available, with their youthful players he brought in the first team. And with the current crop of young and talented players brought up at Arsenal banging on the door and ready to come in and fight for the cause we have every right to be grateful for the man who has kept us where we are now. A top club in England and well respected all over Europe and the world.
And remember those 4 other clubs, it could have happened to us…
All the background…
- Arsenal’s new tactics explored in detail and what it means for the season ahead
- How the Premier League referees are biased: an analysis
- Barcelona’s attempt to fool the financial regulator unravels
- Arsenal desperate for more players (according to reports)
- Media completely misses Arsenal’s astounding tactical change