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

More stadium madness

Posted by John Beech on April 30, 2010

Last week I blogged on the unrealistic plans for new stadiums in Plymouth and Bristol in connection with England’s 2018 bid (Are we going stark stadium bonkers?). This approach is certainly not confined to England, and an interesting example can be found in Qatar, bidding for the 2022 World Cup (1).  This particular article, citing Reuters as a source, states that officials have said that Qatar will build “12 air-conditioned outdoor stadiums if it wins the right to host the 2022 World Cup“. It also quotes a figure for the cost of the Qatari bid as $4 billion (approximately £2.6 billion).  Not exactly ‘ghutrahs for goal-posts’ then.  The first five of the planned stadiums can be seen here.

Now, a little surfing suggests that not all 12 will be new-build – some at least will be upgradings. The four billion dollars figure is however widely repeated.

The United Nations estimate of Qatar’s population for 2009 is 1.4 million, slightly less than the combined population of Birmingham and Manchester.  If we take the typical figure of stadium capacity being quoted as 45,000, and bear in mind that, as Peter Snow will doubtless be saying on Thursday night, this is just for fun, it’s not meant to be accurate, roughly a third of the population will be able to sit in one of these air-conditioned lovelies at any given time.  They will have cost roughly £2,000 per member of the Qatari population, or, to put it another way, roughly £5,000 per seat.  A fine legacy though, you have to admit.

To put this in a wider perspective however, the $4 billion cost of the bid is roughly equal to eight years’ worth of Oxfam’s gross annual income (from 2).

Funny old game?  More like funny old world.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Southend United (see postings passim) Chairman Ron Martin has been telling the Southend Echo how the club’s relegation will affect the seemingly eternal plans for the new stadium (3): “The stadium plans have been unaffected and they will continue.  Our business plan is built on taking Southend to a new stadium so we have more income and therefore can grow and all the activity in building up the youth setup is predicated on the growth of the club.  The biggest thing about being in League Two is a loss of income.  No doubt we will have less crowds, charge less ticket prices and commercially there will be less income but equally the wage demands are less in League Two. We are also extremely well placed to compete as a football team.

‘Extremely well placed’, eh!  Luck old Southend.  Do you know, I’m beginning to think he actually believes what he says!  Perhaps he might instead reflect on the slogan of Sainsbury’s, the superstore on which the club is becoming increasingly dependent (they paid off the club’s £378,000 tax bill to avoid winding-up this month [4]): ‘Try something new today!’.  Quite possibly Sainsbury’s are beginning to wish he would.

4 Responses to “More stadium madness”

  1. John Beech said


    Some players’ wages for May were not paid on time, and the club remains under a Football League transfer embargo (1). The latter apparently “in no way affects the Club’s plans to recruit for the forthcoming season” – does this mean they had no plans to recruit? Staffing levels may be reduced by 10%. So, not out of the woods yet it would seem.

    • John Beech said


      Southend’s financial problems are compounded by the fact that several of their players remain on Championship wages but the club is now in League 2 (1) with its mandatory salaries cap. Another own goal by Chairman Ron it would seem.

      The same club statement (11 June) clarified the late payment situation: “It is not correct for certain sections of the media to suggest that all of our players were still unpaid for May. 95% of our players and staff have been paid for May with the remaining staff due to be paid in full in the near future.

      So no problem at all really.

  2. […] Updates [Newest first] Further Southend update Cardiff latest Cardiff City update Yeltz update Salisbury appeal result Preston latest Southend […]

  3. Tom said

    I’ve been told regarding Plymouth Argyle “If the ground is built to it’s 46,000 or whatever it is, then they can attract music concerts from the ‘big’ names in music. In partnership with AEG. These concerts would draw in masses of revenue for the club / board, enough so that the thought of 30,000 empty seats is irrelevant”

    I think this business model is highly speculative and unsound. What are your thoughts?

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