The Premier League is now over 25 years old and many of the top-flight clubs have changed beyond recognition as the English top flight has become a global phenomenon. Their stadiums have also gone through numerous revamps, refurbishments and expansions whilst a number of teams have opted to build new specifically-designed arenas to keep up with demand.
Spurs - White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur's ground previously held 36,000 spectators which had been considered perfectly adequate for many years but after breaking into the top two of the Premier League last season and embarking upon a UEFA Champions League campaign, a bigger capacity was clearly required. Since the early 2000s, speculation has been rife surrounding a possible relocation for the North London club. However, in 2010, plans were unveiled to renovate White Hart Lane, increasing the capacity to around 60,000 and after months of deliberation, plans were given the green light by Haringey Council and the mayor of London. The club have been posting regular updates via Twitter and also assured fans that the renovated stadium will be ready for the beginning of the 2018-19 Premier League season. Once complete, the stadium will also be able to stage NFL matches with an initial plan to host two games a year in North London.
They've enjoyed plenty of success at White Hart Lane over the years and during the 2016-17 campaign, they managed to remain unbeaten here for the first time in 52 years. There was a certain intimacy about White Hart Lane, particularly when Spurs were on top and the club will have to ensure they don't lose that atmosphere during the revamp. Wembley is their temporary home and they've struggled to adapt to their new climes with two draws and a defeat from their opening three Premier League matches although they did chalk up a 3-1 success in the Champions League against Dortmund. If their patchy form continues, a return to the fully refurbished White Hart Lane can't come quick enough!
Liverpool - Anfield
Liverpool were another club that toyed with the idea of relocation and plans were drawn up for a 55,000 all-seater stadium in Stanley Park. They wouldn't have been forced to move far with the potential new structure set to be erected just 300 metres from their current home. However, following the recession and several protests from local residents these plans were shelved. In 2014, expansion to their current home was given the go-ahead and work began to increase the capacity to 54, 057. Liverpool were forced to play their first three matches of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign away from home whilst work was completed in Merseyside. Disappointingly, the club picked up just four points from a possible nine but thumped Leicester 4-1 on their return to the newly refurbished stadium. The Reds have lost just twice at home in the Premier League since the renovated Anfield re-opened its doors and as of October 13th, Jurgen Klopp's side have been priced up as 33/1 for the title with Betway and are also 21/20 to secure a place in the top four. Their home form will be key if they are to challenge at the top of the Premier League this year as they aim to take advantage of the intimidating atmosphere served up by thousands of passionate locals. There are plans in the offing for further expansion with a capacity of 60,000 believed to be the next step.
Chelsea - Stamford Bridge
Chelsea's stadium went through a number of renovations throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, which increased its capacity to 43,000. In March 2017, London mayor Sadiq Kahn backed the clubs plans to build a new £500 million arena on the site of Stamford Bridge with the brand new facilities set to be ready for the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season. The club wish to increase their capacity to around 60,000, increasing their appeal to visitors and fans around the world. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and even Sunderland all currently boast a bigger capacity and following their success in both the top flight and Europe, owner Roman Abramovich feels the expansion is desperately required.
Arsenal - The Emirates
In the late 1990s, amid unprecedented success in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal chiefs decided that a bigger stadium was required. Highbury boasted a capacity of 38,500 and that was deemed inadequate especially considering the English top flight was starting to become a global product and many fans were regularly missing out on tickets to games. As opposed to renovating Highbury once again, the club decided that relocation was the solution and they selected an area just yards away from their existing home.
The Emirates Stadium opened in July 2006 and is the second largest football stadium in England. The club have kept a number of links with their former home, naming the offices 'Highbury House', and several exhibits from the ground were subsequently moved to the Arsenal museum.
Premier League clubs are increasingly finding that the demand for tickets is outstripping the capacity and as a result, many have been forced to relocate. There is the danger that many aspects of the intimidating atmosphere served up could be lost in the process but as hugely successful business models, the club must continue to meet the requirements of their paying customers and further refurbishments or relocations appear to be the only way forward.
Article Published: 16th October 2017
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