Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance


Posted by John Beech on July 9, 2009

I love stadiums, Victorian (Archie Leitch – what a hero!) or ultra-modern. I love them as buildings, as examples of grand architecture. But I am unsentimental about them otherwise – I do not share the typical British view that they can and must only be associated with one club. As someone who who works in a Business School that is not surprising – their utilisation rate is ludicrously low if they only earn serious money once a fortnight.

In Italy shared stadiums are far from unknown, and there are examples in Germany and Austria too. In Britain they have generally been restricted either to clubs playing different sports (football and rugby seem to pair up more often than other sports) or to lower League clubs sharing their stadium with a reserve team from a higher division. The proposal that Liverpool and Everton share a new stadium has been greeted with derision by their respective fans.

If you haven’t heard yet, you perhaps need to sit down: Oldham (League 1) and Rochdale (League 2) have held initial and informal talks about the possibility of sharing Oldham’s Boundary Park (1). Their grounds are less than seven miles apart, so any inconvenience to Rochdale fans would not be enormous. Stockport County is also mentioned in this particular context.

No doubt there will howls of protest from Outraged of Milnrow. Let the voice of protest just think about the big savings on costs, a vital issue in these times with so many clubs facing the possibility of insolvency. If it meant the difference between survival of the club or liquidation, would they still see a shared stadium as unthinkable?  If it works at the San Siro, why couldn’t it be made to work here?

There is also the possibility of two clubs selling their stadiums and sharing a new stadium. Or would that really be thinking the unthinkable?


5 Responses to “Heresy?”

  1. kevin rye said

    Except where will the money go from the sale of either stadium? There would have to be a lot of questions answered first. In this case, what about Rochdale Hornets, who already share Spotland? Or the relationship between town/council and club? Clubs, at least in England, have very close ties to the towns they hail from, and that would potentially come under strain if this sort of thing were to happen. How about what the supporters think? Would they be given the right to decide democratically or not? It may make straightforward economic sense to share, but clubs should be using their stadia throughout the week anyway. Having four games a fortnight instead of two isn’t exactly intense use. It’s whether owners of clubs want them to be more than first xi’s, and be true community institutions, not just sporting ones.

    • John Beech said

      I am in sympathy with much of what you argue, and I was arguing a general case rather than commenting specifically on the Oldham/Rochdale scenario.
      What you ask should be asked of much of what is going on in English football – it doesn’t just apply to stadium sharing.
      I would also argue that mutually-agreed permanent stadium sharing is in many ways peferable to the kind of enforced ground-hopping nomad life-style that Slough or Maidstone have had to endure.
      At the bottom line, I am arguing that stadium sharing should not be the taboo that it is English football.
      [Great to see some real debate on the blog BTW]

  2. John Beech said

    To catch a good flavour of ‘clubs on the move’ see Returning Home & Moving Home on the excellent twohundredpercent website. There are plenty of other names to add to my examples of Slough and Maidstone.

  3. […] his blog, economist John Beech argued the taboo against ground-sharing needs to be broken down as its existence was hurting English clubs economically. I love stadiums, Victorian (Archie Leitch […]

  4. […] would have made good economic sense.  I’ve advocated ‘thinking the unthinkable’ before, and Cambridge is, in my opinion, better served by one bigger rather than two smaller clubs .  Or […]

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