Some of the most famous stadiums in world football are in need of a facelift, as more modern grounds leave them behind in the past.
Time is undefeated; it has never lost a fight, and it never will. Everything and everyone ages to the point of redundancy, no matter how hard you try to combat it. Even our beloved football stadia.
Sports grounds become local institutions, communal cathedrals for supporters with a blind faith and an unerring will to follow their team to the very depths of despair. It is their sanctuary, their Mecca — a house of worship.
Pray as they might, we all lose more than we win. And even these shrines to the footballing gods can falter themselves, losing the battle against time and, in some cases, corporate apathy.
Here are the holy temples whose congregations deserve a better spiritual home:
Having only been to Old Trafford a few months ago, this writer can attest to the impressive stature of Old Trafford. The sheer size and vastness of it alone is enough to make you gawk like a geek.
The kicker is this, though: it has been well over a decade since the ground has been updated. No improvements, no refurbs, no increased capacity. Nothing.
Journalists have long complained about the state of the Wifi within Manchester United’s home, which also became a problem for Paul Pogba last season when a delayed Snapchat post got him in trouble with then-manager José Mourinho. A small problem, perhaps, but an easily fixable one that illustrates the wider issue.
Although most football clubs would kill to have an asset like Old Trafford, it needs to be brought in line with the prominence and ambition of United. Maybe therein lies the problem.
Having gone through a renovation in 1998, Stamford Bridge isn’t necessarily outdated, but suffers from football’s propensity to move so quickly.
Originally built in 1877, the Bridge is the joint-fourth oldest stadium in England still in use at 142 years of age. A relatively modern stadium with a nice look, it suffers from a small capacity.
Holding just over 40,000 spectators for games, Chelsea’s home ground is only the eighth largest stadium in the country and the smallest of any of the top six teams. In London alone, three teams have bigger stadia than them; Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham, the latter two having overtaken the Blues in recent years.
Plans to completely redevelop the ground were shelved “due to to the current unfavourable investment climate” in May of last year, although it’s believed owner Roman Abramovich’s rift with the British government over his visa was one of the main causes.
If those plans were to get the go-ahead again, the south London outfit would not only benefit from the increased capacity but also the potential for massively increased revenue from executive boxes.
If it has ‘park’ in the name, then it’s probably in need of redevelopment.
Goodison Park has a certain charm to it, especially as it is one of the last classic stadiums of the establishment Premier League clubs. With White Harte Lane gone and Anfield updated, Everton are the only big club left with a ground straight from another era.
A tight stadium that still has the old-style pillars obstructing the spectator’s view, there is actually a church protruding between the Goodison Road Stand and the Gwladys Street Stand, mere yards away from the corner flag.
The Toffees have toyed with the idea of moving for the guts of three decades, meaning the current stadium has more or less stood still in that time; the last major renovation was completed in 1994.
— Everton (@Everton) July 25, 2019
The club revealed their latest plans for a new stadium in the last month, an ambitious riverside project that would bring the club into the 21st century. But will they get this one over the line?
One of the most iconic stadiums in Europe, the Stadio Olimpico is also in desperate need of refurbishment, if not complete demolition.
Opened in 1937 and later expanded for the 1990 World Cup, the ground is shared by the Italian capital’s two biggest clubs, AS Roma and SS Lazio. Some obvious problems are the fact that it is way oversized for the two teams, has a running track, and is generally poorly kempt.
Despite the two teams achieving relative success in recent years, attendance has been steadily declining, as explained by The Laziali in a blog post: “The big stadium is getting more and more outdated and with too few fans in the stands, it doesn’t either create the atmosphere that brings more people to the games. Besides the derbies, the Olimpico makes a rather deserted impression in most games.”
The Olimpico will likely have one less tenant in the coming years, as Roma have announced plans to open their own state-of-the-art stadium. And who can blame them for wanting to get out.
The Dublin venue has borne witness to Pelé, George Best, Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats and Bob Marley, but Dalymount Park has seen better days.
The football ground has legendary status in Irish sports, but it is long past needing a lick of paint, with one stand and a terrace closed due to health and safety concerns.
The stadium is certainly a throwback to another era with its beloved floodlights and old school turnstiles, while the atmosphere created by Bohemians fans every Friday is terrific, but change is long overdue.
There is a plan in place with Dublin City Council to completely revamp ‘Dalyer’, which would see Bohs share the ground with local rivals Shelbourne. Given the ongoing crisis at the FAI and the uncertainty over state funding relating to that however, those plans are in danger of being shelved.