Friday, October 20, 2006

Stadium Madness

I dunno. I go away for three days to refresh my brain and sharpen my keen football-writing skills, and what happens? Everyone goes stadium crazy.

First of all, I here that new Aston Villa owner, Randy Lerner, intends to rake in yet more money for the club by allowing a company to sponsor the name of its ground. But fear not - Lerner has said that the history and heritage of the club will be retained in any change to the name of their stadium. Apparently an early suggestion for a new title has proved controversial - it's 'Villa Park'.

I'm thinking we could see some highly commercial deals being done here. Maybe the team could be renamed Aston Martin and get them to play their games at PolyVilla Park?

Then there's the fight for the London 2012 stadium in Stratford, East London. Several clubs have been sniffing around looking to purchase the venue once its primary purpose has elapsed, but Tottenham Hotspur have now declared they're pulling out of such a move as "all grounds with a [running] track have a poor atmosphere, attendances are down and clubs say moving there was a mistake." What nonsense - it never did Brighton & Hove Albion any harm when they moved to the Withdean Stadium - or at least that's what the 1,740 miserable fans at their last home match told us.

Apparently West Ham United are now in "serious negotiations" to make it their new home - a move backed by both parties attempting a multi-millionaire takeover of the club. Speaking as a fan of the Hammers myself, I think it will be a lot more accessible for large crowds than Upton Park currently is, but it has to be said that the 'running track / atmosphere' issue is something that has to be given serious consideration.

And apparently the Football Association have reached a conclusion in its talks with Multiplex, the engineering company that won the contract to build the new Wembley Stadium, which means the Australian company will now be paid the outstanding money its due and the stadium will be finished in time for next year's FA Cup Final. Well isn't that marvellous. Instead of telling them they wouldn't get a penny unless the damn thing was finished by Christmas like anyone with any pride in it's national stadium would have done, they tell them everything will be OK and 'by the way, just carry on as before - no rush lads'.

Impressive it may look as you drive along the North Circular Road and very nice it may look when it's completely finished, but surely this must teach any discerning football association around the world one simple lesson? That is if you're planning to build a venue like this, you surely must employ builders that come from the same country as that which you're building the stadium for. That way they'll have so much inherent pride in the national team they support, they'll be only to keen to get the job done well and promptly. Or am I being too simplistic about the issue?


Kedge said...

I'm afraid the Wembly Stadium fiasco is typical of the way large "public" projects are handled in this country. There are few if any proper penalty clauses written into these contract because, the supplier would turn round and refuse to take it on if there were. What clauses are let in are more often or not written so loosely that a bus could be driven through the loopholes. You just have to look at the "Dome", any government IT project, and a certain Financial Management package at a certain London council. And is the Channel Tunnel Rail link finished yet?

The powers that be in this country have the backbones of jellyfish.

What chance has the Olympic site got of finishing on time and within budget. I give you the phrase "a snowflakes chance in............"

My advice to West Ham is.... Dont plan your move yet awhile and watch out you don't get lumbered with the huge debts the site will have accrued.

Smart said...

Spurs were also 'linked' with the Stratford Olympic Stadium, until sporting director Damien Comolli said: "There is no way we are looking to move there.

"All grounds with a track have a poor atmosphere, attendances are down and clubs say moving there was a mistake."

And with a running track around it, it wont have that great a capacity.

I'd prefer Spurs and West Ham to stay where they are and extend there stadium, purely from a 'traditional' point of view, but with transports links so poor to both grounds, I think its inevitable that one or both clubs will move.

Chris said...

Well I think West Ham will have to remodel the stadium in the same way that Man City did with the City of Manchester Stadium. That would sort out the atmosphere issue and the maximum capacity thing, but I still have my doubts.

It'll certainly be easier to get to than Upton Park, and that's a good reason to at least consider it, I think.

Smart said...

Talking of Stadiums, I see Manchester United had a record attendance at the game against Liverpool on Sunday.

An amazing 75,828!

To put that into perspective, the next highest attendance this weekend was Chelsea, with 41,838.

Only 33,990 behind...

75,828 is more than Aston Villa (v Fulham), Wigan (v Man City) and Charlton (v Watford) attendance figures combined!

Chris said...

I know, it's pretty phenomenal. An incredible achievement on the part of the club, I reckon.


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