Ground debate: The Premier – a land of make believe

YEARS AGO, England was always excluded from any realistic bid to stage a major competition. Part of this was the appalling record the country had in terms of its hooligan fans, the other factor was the sub-standard stadiums around the UK. Some cynics felt that UEFA and FIFA were very anti-England and given that 30 years separated 1966 and 1996, they may have had a … Continue reading Ground debate: The Premier – a land of make believe

Ground debate: The Championship – a league with appeal

ALTHOUGH the English Football League’s Championship is characterised by overspending, with wage bills outstripping income, the appeal of the division appears to have grown in recent years. Perhaps it is the competitive nature of the Championship or because it represents football away from the hubris and excesses of the Premier, but increasingly, people find the second tier of the English game very attractive. The average … Continue reading Ground debate: The Championship – a league with appeal

Ground debate: League One – between a rock and a hard place

WITH Sunderland now in League One, attendances in the third tier of English football are enjoying a revival, with the average above 8,000 for the first time since 2009-10 when Leeds United, Norwich City and Southampton were all in the division. Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is averaging almost 30,000 this season – some 12,000 more than Portsmouth, another famous old name that has seen better … Continue reading Ground debate: League One – between a rock and a hard place

Ground debate: League Two and its ancient homes

FOOTBALL is full of financial imbalances and the gap between the Premier and, for example, League Two is painfully vast. The gulf is so substantial that there is an argument for shifting the bottom two division of the English Football League to part-time status. However, the emotional pull of the game is such that this is unlikely to happen in the near future. Supporters of … Continue reading Ground debate: League Two and its ancient homes

Picture Post: How we used to live – stadiums from the 80s

THESE photos, taken in the period between 1988 and 1991, demonstrate how football has changed in the past 30 years. Mansfield, circa 1989. A notable main stand, similar to Arsenal’s Highbury stands. Also notable is the attire of the locals. On the right is Rochdale’s Spotland, taken before the home team’s game with Scunthorpe in February 1988. Rochdale won 2-1 in front of 1,455 people. … Continue reading Picture Post: How we used to live – stadiums from the 80s

Science and art: Today’s football homes

ONE of the notable features of the 2018 World Cup has been the stadiums, many of which were completed just a few months before the competition got underway. Most are new constructions, with the most expensive being St. Petersburg, coming in at around USD 1.5 bn. Any nation that wins the right to stage a major sporting event has to undergo an overhaul of its … Continue reading Science and art: Today’s football homes

Bread and circuses for the people: Hungary’s stadium project

ONE OF the most fascinating weekends I’ve spent in recent years was a couple of days walking around Budapest in search of traces of the famous Hungarian “golden team” of the 1950s. You have to look hard and you won’t find much evidence, especially as there’s a big stadium rebuilding programme going on, but any visit to Budapest is always worthwhile. Budapest is a real … Continue reading Bread and circuses for the people: Hungary’s stadium project

A morning in Strahov

PETRIN HILL overlooks the city of Prague. You arrive there via a steep funicular railway that starts at Ujezd and if you take the route through the ornate gardens, you find one of the monuments to a past political regime, the grey and imposing Strahov stadium. Strahov is a crumbling reminder of how Soviet-style governments liked to build vast socialist superbowls that held huge numbers … Continue reading A morning in Strahov

The Lazy Listicle: 10 iconic European Stadiums

WHEN I was a kid, I used to read the International Football Book, a strange tome that was edited by the man who went on to form Charisma Records. In the back of the book, there was a list of all the major international teams’ records for the year, listing their line-ups in a chart that indicated each player’s position – G, RB, LB and … Continue reading The Lazy Listicle: 10 iconic European Stadiums

France lays the foundation with new stadia

French football, in preparation for Euro 2016, has been very active in building impressive new stadia right across the nation. While these grounds all look to be transformational in their design and structure, the recent accident that took place at Bordeaux’s Nouveau Stade is a very unfortunate oversight that could have been far worse. A safety barrier gave way at the stadium as Bordeaux were … Continue reading France lays the foundation with new stadia

Grounds for optimism in Vienna

The Ernst Happel Stadium, once known as the mighty Prater, is doing brisk business these days. New grounds are en vogue in Austria at the moment, and in Vienna, the latest club to announce a makeover is Austria Vienna. This comes just over six months after their fierce rivals, Rapid, moved out of the Gerhard Hanappi stadium while it was being demolished to make way … Continue reading Grounds for optimism in Vienna

A bigger boat for Chelsea will be a PR coup for Abramovich

Doubtless there will be some protests, perhaps even the odd banner, but if the man from Saratov wishes it, there will be little that the fans can do about it – Chelsea will temporarily move from their ancestral home of Stamford Bridge while they pull it apart and rebuild it. But isn’t a move to a new stadium really the next natural step in the … Continue reading A bigger boat for Chelsea will be a PR coup for Abramovich