BLACKPOOL’S FIXTURE CONCERN

Blackpool fixture pile-up is a cause of concern for the Premier League. The promoted club is the only one in the top-flight without undersoil heating and it’s likely that the Premier League may now make installing such a system a requirement of playing in the division. At present, perhaps surprisingly, it is not.

Blackpool have already lost two fixtures to the weather, and given that both are against Champions League clubs — Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur — it has complicated the process of rescheduling the games in February and March. Blackpool are scheduled to play United on Jan 25.

The Premier League’s anxiety will grow should Blackpool’s next two home matches — against Llanelli on Boxing Day and Birmingham City on Jan 4 – also be called off.

HOLLOWAY HAPPY WITH THE WIN

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway has said that he is extremely happy with the club’s win over Stoke city. “To come to a place that is so hard to win at was a fantastic display. This is as good as we have been,” he said. “Even Lionel Messi couldn’t have done any better.”

DJ Campbell’s scored the only goal of the game to move the Seasiders up to 10th on a total of 22 points.

“Someone had us down for only 10 after 38 games,” reflected Holloway. “Bit of a laughing stock we were going to be.”

Blackpool now have four away wins – a total only bettered by Premier League leaders Chelsea and Man Utd.

STOKE CITY AND MANCHESTER CITY DRAW

Stoke city pulled off a injury time equaliser to secure draw with Manchester city. Two minutes into added time, Etherington collected a back-heel from Tuncay and fired in low from 12 yards.

Nine minutes earlier, Micah Richards seemed to have given City what had looked like an unlikely victory when he finished well after a superb turn.

The www.soccerkits.com website pointed out that Manchester City are now five points behind table toppers Manchester United.

However, on a day that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side smashed seven past Blackburn, it is clear from City’s mediocre display here that the gap between the two neighbours is greater than that represented by mere points.

ESPANYOL WIN STADIUM AWARD

The new home of Real Club Deportivo (RCD) Espanyol Football Club in Barcelona, Spain, has won first prize for the best sporting facility worldwide in 2010, in a competition organised by the Guinness group.

Arup participated in the structural design and fire protection of this stadium during the project phase, in close collaboration with the architects Reid Fenwick Associates and Gasulla & Associates. Located in the city of Cornellá, Barcelona, the new Espanyol stadium has a capacity to hold 45,000 spectators, and various commercial and sports facilities, such as a library and a hotel.

Officially inaugurated on 2 August 2009, the stadium is conceived as an element of creation of new infrastructures and interrelation among the citizens, following the criteria of new stadiums in Europe, with the inclusion of a recreational centre for all the family and several equipments beyond the sportive facilities.

The stadium is composed of two areas; the stands and the ring that surrounds them. The facility has a clear and strong design, with definite geometrics, and a facade conceived as a flying and translucent curtain with the club colours, which get illuminated at night.

The Arup Madrid structures team was in charge of the structural design of both stands and foundations, and the roof, which were designed in reinforced concrete and steel respectively. One of the most interesting aspects of the design is the shape of the roof – totally flat and with large lights between columns of up to 200m. With the aim of achieving the best visibility, the design of the stadium has considered the position of the spectators, situating them as close as possible to the playing field.

NEW STADIUM IN BRISTOL

The Honorary President of the Football League Lord Brian Mawhinney has given his public support to a campaign to stop the site of Bristol’s potential World Cup stadium from being registered as a “town green”.

Lord Mawhinney is also Chairman of the England 2018 Technical Bid Panel, which is the organisation behind the selection of the 16 English host city stadiums, and Bristol’s development plans were a lynch pin in the city’s successful candidacy.

Ashton Vale is a 42-acre site in South Bristol that was granted permission for a £92 million stadium and neighbouring wetlands and wildlife area by Bristol City Council in February this year, following a three-year application process.

However, in May the Council received an independent planning inspector’s report recommending that the area – half of which is a former landfill site – be given special designation as a town green.

The report was invoked by a small number of residents who live nearby and are against the stadium plans.

Lord Mawhinney signed the petition supporting the campaign “A City United” in front of the home crowd at Ashton Gate during the half-time interval of the City game against Queen’s Park Rangers on Friday evening.

LIVERPOOL STADIUM PLANS UNSETTLED

Former Arsenal chief Keith Edelman has advised new Liverpool owners NESV to come up with a plan to either build a new stadium or increase the current Anfield capacity if they want to compete with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. Currently even the Everton Hospitality is bigger than at Anfield.

He believes that Liverpool owners need to take one of the two options sooner rather than later. Edelman worked for Royal Bank of Scotland as a consultant for six months prior to club’s takeover by NESV.

He is of the opinion that Liverpool must increase their match day income if they want to sit amongst the European elite in future. “I think they have to generate more revenue and to achieve that objective they have to enlarge Anfield or develop a new stadium,” said Edelman. “They have to do one thing or the other. They can’t stay as they are.”

Liverpool’s Anfield stadium is an icon of English football but it has its financial constraints. The 45,362 capacity is nowhere near enough to compete with top European clubs. Manchester United 75,000+, Arsenal 60,000, AC Milan 80,000+, Real Madrid 85,000+ are well ahead of Liverpool in terms of their match day incomes.

In the financial year 2008-09, Liverpool earned a modest £42m from gate and match day income. On the other hand, Manchester United generated £109m and Arsenal earned £100.1m during the same year.

WORLD CUP LEGACY

What should a city do with a football stadium no one uses, sitting on prime land in the centre of town? Demolish it, you say.

The answer would be simpler were the question not over the future of the new but already iconic Cape Town stadium, completed only six months ago for the World Cup at a cost of R4.5bn (€460m).

The stadium, on Green Point Common, has been controversial since before it was even built. Many Capetonians believe it should have been built at Athlone, on the impoverished Cape Flats, where most of the city’s football fans live. There, a club might have been found for it after the World Cup. But the world football’s governing body, Fifa, insisted on the city centre location, offering Cape Town a semi-final on the condition that it be played well out of sight of shacks and poverty. The government and local organising committee acquiesced. The then mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, won round her citizens by securing Stade de France – the French company that manages Paris’s top stadium – to operate the venue after the World Cup.

Stade de France, who were due to take charge on 1 November for 30 years, have now backed out of the deal saying its shareholders are not prepared to support the “projected substantial losses” it will incur. Servicing the stadium and keeping the pitch in shape costs €45m a year.

Capetonians are divided over whether the stadium is an elegant icon or a useless monument to South Africa’s excessive spending on the World Cup. Other stadiums – such as the 45,000-seater Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, which cost R1.3bn (€134m), and the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane (cost: R1.25m) were always expected to become white elephants. But Cape Town’s stylish stadium was the most expensive of the 10 World Cup venues, leading everyone to believe that the number crunchers considered it sustainable.

Maybe FIFA should have searched Google for some coupon codes before they comitted to the new stadiums?!

ALL 92 STADIUMS SNAPPED

Nottingham photographer Chris Olley has spent two years taking pictures of all 92 Football League grounds in England.

Olley took the black and white photographs on days when there were no matches taking place as he wanted to convey their starkness.

He said: “When football stadiums aren’t being used they have this redundant feeling about them. They sit there like an old ship.

“It was gruelling. I did seventy-five percent of it on a 250cc [motorbike].”

Living in Nottingham, in the centre of the country, had its advantages for Olley who regularly got up at the crack of dawn to travel to the grounds.

I [did] them in black and white because I didn’t want the team’s colours obscuring the stadiums
Photographer Chris Olley

He said: “I only stayed overnight in Reading, at my aunty’s in Blackpool and a Travelodge in South Wales. The rest of it I came home for.”

Chris is influenced by the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, who are best known for their images of industrial buildings.

Their work and ideas are evident in Olley’s football ground work.

“[Their work] shows us things in life which appear to be mundane and it can show us that we can take things for granted,” he explained.

“I wanted to bring that into the photographs of the stadiums and try and exclude people, movement and colour.

CHELSEA MOVING VENUES

Chelsea Football Club are in talks to quit their 105-year old home at Stamford Bridge and build a ground on the site of the soon- to-be-demolished Earls Court Exhibition Centre to hold at least 60,000 spectators, the Guardian has learned.

“There have been discussions about it and the club is clearly considering its next step,” confirmed a source close to Chelsea, who added that negotiations are at an early stage and no deal has been signed.

The club has met the site’s owner, Capital and Counties, in recent months and Chelsea and its advisers are holding “a series of key meetings to decide whether to pursue a bid or not”, according to a source close to the talks.

A new stadium would not be ready until 2015 because Earls Court is scheduled to host the 2012 Olympic volleyball competition before the exhibition centre is demolished.

Tonight [Chelsea chairman Bruce] Buck said it was “very difficult for us to make the philosophical decision that we are going to move on”, but conceded that the lack of capacity at Stamford Bridge left it out of pocket compared with other clubs.

“Certainly we wouldn’t leave west London or thereabouts and there are very few sites available,” he said. “We have to do things with our other commercial activities to make up the deficit that is created by the fact we don’t have a 60,000 seat stadium. We can’t say that we will never move or have a new stadium but at the moment, it’s not at the front of our agenda.”

However, Chelsea insiders said Buck is keen to boost matchday takings because Uefa is introducing rules limiting the ability of super-rich owners to bankroll clubs without squaring spending with revenues. (The Guardian)

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