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The Modern Stadium Era in the English Premier League

If Hull seize the final Premiership place available for next season at the play-offs on Saturday, it will mean that  half of the top flight will be playing in venues constructed after 1995.

The Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough kicked off the great building project that followed the modernisation demands after the Hillsborough disaster and the Taylor Report. Football appears to be moving on, with old stadiums being converted into mega-structures with spacious concourses.

More and more old traditional grounds are being replaced with new builds, Upton Park will soon join Ayresome Park, Highbury, the Dell, Filbert Street, Roker Park, Vetch Field, and the Victoria Ground and be demolished to make way for apartments.

While about a third of the clubs across the top four divisions have physically moved their sites to build new, many others have upgraded at their current location, such as the ambitious Premier League Clubs Watford and Bournemouth.

Several more clubs have similar plans in the works. Tottenham are working their way towards a completely new arena on the old White Hart Lane site. Liverpool are upgrading at Anfield. Chelsea are a little further behind with their own upgrade plans at Stamford Bridge.

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Many of the clubs upgrading their playing grounds have enjoyed success on the field and in a financial sense too, with new stadiums comes more revenue, often due to increased capacities, with the appeal for multi-use facilities in the lower leagues.

Northampton’s pursuit of multi-use facilities at the Sixfields Stadium nearly resulted in a different ending for the club. The League Two champions were close to entering administration last winter after the scandal broke about a missing £10m redevelopment loan provided by the council.

Sometimes clubs can find themselves in the lower leagues with stadiums fit for a higher level. Colchester and Doncaster, having invested in new grounds, have taken up positions in the fourth tier this year. Bolton are in financial difficulties and sliding into the third tier for the first time since 1997.

Whether you prefer the nostalgia and feel of the old grounds or the more modern amphitheatres built today, it seems there is no stopping the advance of the all seater stadium.


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