New Stamford Bridge, the Olympic stadium and a new ground for Everton. It isn’t so easy.

By Tony Attwood

Chelsea have released some plans of what the new Stamford Bridge home will look like if it gets planning permission.  If matters go at all like New White Hart Lane, New Stamford Bridge will change quite a few times and be subject to years of delay before it gets built.

But maybe Chelsea’s owner knows things about planning that Tottenham Hotspur didn’t know, and so can do it faster.

One thing we seem to know a lot quicker is who is to pay for the New SB.   New WHL was several years along the road before we had it confirmed that the money was coming from the banks – just as Arsenal’s money did for the Ems.  Which is an interesting piece of knowledge because it means there will be a period of paying back the loans – and everyone supporting Arsenal knows for sure what that means.

New SB however has none of that paying-back malarkey.  Mr Abramovich is paying the £600m, just as the UK taxpayers paid for the Olympic Stadium and for the Ethiad Stadium.  On the basis of finances, Chelsea, State Aid Utd and Sharia Law City should be right out in front at the top of the league, leaving Arsenal and Tottenham hanging around way, way, behind.

Once planning permission is gained and the prelims done the New SB project can get under way and will take three years, unless anything unexpected crops up along the way.  Realistically we are probably looking at opening in August 2020.

All the clubs that have been thinking about moving, building, or “renting for one day a fortnight” as WHU fans often tell us etc etc, have watched Arsenal, the pioneers in the approach to getting a big new stadium while not getting relegated.

Between 1935 and 1995 no major new football stadia were built.  Since then we have had quite a few although not always companied by success on the pitch.  Each new club assured its fans that they would “not make the mistakes” of those who had gone before, but most did.

“D3” and similar below means the third tier.  Where grounds have since changed their name the original name is used but place in italics.

Stadium Club Built Promotion/Releg
Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough 1995 Relegated 1997
Britannia Stadium Stoke City 1997 Relegated 1998
Reebok Stadium Bolton Wanderers 1997 Relegated 1998
Pride Park Stadium Derby County 1997 Relegated 2002
Stadium of Light Sunderland 1997 Relegated 1997
Madejski Stadium Reading 1998 Releg to Div 3 ’98
JJB Stadium Wigan Athletic 1999 Won D3 2003
St Mary’s Stadium Southampton 2001 Relegated 2005
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Prom from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 Won League 2012
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Top 4 throughout
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012

Looking at the record overall we can see that the normal course of events after spending a lot on a stadium is a decline.  Southampton actually went into administration, Wigan dropped through the leagues, Leicester dropped to the third tier.  Even Manchester City who didn’t have to pay for their stadium, took a long, long time to get to the top, and missed relegation by 3 places in 2006.

So one could say that rather like big money purchases, getting a new ground is not always ideal.

But there is more to this than just building and running out of money for players.  It is also about atmosphere; it turns out to be hard to get an atmosphere going in a new ground, and that might be a problem for New SB as Stamford Bridge has grown quite quiet in recent years.

There could be all sorts of problems at Chelsea – I am there so rarely that I can’t really say, but the stewards have a much worse reputation than at Arsenal, and some of the low-price deals Arsenal have, Chelsea don’t.  According to some reports Chelsea’s lowest prices are £10 more expensive than any other club in the Premier League.

There is also a zero tolerance approach to persistent standing, which we don’t have in the North Bank.   Chelsea have frozen prices in recent years but still have the third most expensive season tickets and their ‘cheapest’ matchday ticket is £10 more expensive than any other club in the Premier League.

Apart from looking at Wembley as a location for Chelsea, there is also talk of them going to Twickenham, which could be fun for anyone not living in that part of London.  Tottenham also want to go to Wembley, and there are doubts as to whether even one of the two would get the planning permission to play games there every fortnight.

Meanwhile the Olympic Stadium Coalition, are still trying to get details of West Ham United’s deal for the Olympic Stadium to be made fully public.

The Olympic Stadium Coalition has said that although the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) was ordered to release in full the financial terms of the deal between itself and West Ham United for the hire of the Olympic Stadium on September 15th 2015, they are currently releasing information in dribs and drabs.

“They have so far released three further versions of the agreement, all with continued substantial redactions.

“Although the LLDC is clearly exercising a right to appeal against the decision of the Information Commissioner (ICO), we continue to contend that the LLDC is simply dragging its feet, and using procedural delays to attempt to ‘time out’ the campaign.

“Representing as we do fourteen supporters’ organisations, thousands of members of the public, and with the support of MPs, London AMs and other civil society organisations, we will continue to make the same demands for transparency as we made when we set out on this campaign, because we believe that a fair deal for the taxpayer, is a fair deal for football.”

So we still don’t know…

“The amount (the ‘Basic Usage Fee), that West Ham United will be paying to use the stadium. We also don’t know the amount by which this fee is reduced in the event of relegation…

“How much the stadium maintenance will cost, and who will pay for it.

“What provision the LLDC has made to fund both ongoing repairs, and the upgrade of facilities which can be demanded by West Ham United, and whether there are any upper-limits on costs” is also unknown.


“We do not know what revenue West Ham derive from money paid into a separate ‘Naming Rights Account’, established under the agreement. This will be made up from revenue from the main Stadium sponsor, plus all other ‘lower level’ sponsorships.”

We don’t even know what happens if West Ham United is sold by its current owners!

Finally, onto Everton who are exploring the redevelopment of Goodison Park as it looks like they are unable to go through with the building of a new stadium that they believe will “future-proof” the club.

Chief executive Robert Elstone, has said that the project for a new stadium at Walton Hall Park had been undermined by a lack of support from Liverpool City Council, 14 months after the project was announced.

Indeed the club started looking for a new stadium 15 years ago.  “Only one club in the last 15 years has built a new 50,000-seat stadium through its own efforts,” he said. “Arsenal.

“As for the rest, Manchester City were given a stadium after the Commonwealth Games and West Ham will be getting a £650m stadium for an investment of £15m.”

How true.

An anniversary…

3 December 2011: Wigan 0 Arsenal 4, making it six wins and a draw in the last 7, going from 15th to 5th in just two months.  Arteta, Vermalelen, Gervinho and Van Persie got the goals.

5 Replies to “New Stamford Bridge, the Olympic stadium and a new ground for Everton. It isn’t so easy.”

  1. Off-topic I know but the U18s won their FACup tie against West Brom by 4 – 1 this evening. Two early goals (but a saved penalty) in the first half then a late flurry in the second half, Arsenal going three up before a late goal from W Brom and an injury time fourth for Arsenal. Well done lads. Hopefully if the fourth round game is at home Arsenal will play it at the Emirates.

  2. Getting the balance right between investment on and off the field appears to be damn near impossible. Investing in youth in order to reduce reliance on the transfer market can only work up to a point because your best players (as proved at Arsenal) will get tempted away and you’re left running ever faster in order to catch up.
    Arsenal managed the stadium moving process far better than anyone else with their average position in the EPL slipping by only two places (explained by the emergence of the financially doped Chelsea and Man City) – a million miles away from the previously inevitable relegation.
    Maybe the likes of Spurs have learned from the the way Arsenal coped with it all but the prospect of moving out for a year may negate that learning especially considering the fact that, as proved by the Premier League research data shown to the AST last week, Spurs fans are the most pessimistic and negative on practically every football related subject of any fanbase in the EPL.

  3. With the current TV revenue, should be easier for these teams than it was for us. But of course, inflation in terms of agent fees, wages and transfer fees makes things different.
    But as for Spurs, wherever their temporary home is, they will end up paying a pretty heavy toilet tax after the antics of their fans

  4. I doubt the LLDC will reveal much more. They will probably claim commercial confidentiality. I saw the reply to a Freedom of Information request recently. Large chunks consisted of page after page of solid black. Redacted information.

    As usual Arsenal stands out like a beacon in this list. We can thank one person only for that. The manager. Extraordinary achievement.

  5. Could Gazcorp be the first club to get relegated before their new stadium gets built?

    We can but hope.

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