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.
|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.”
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.
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