Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Fri 20 October 2006

Stadium Madness

I dunno. I go away for three days to refresh my brain and sharpen my keen football-writing skills, and what happens? Everyone goes stadium crazy.

First of all, I here that new Aston Villa owner, Randy Lerner, intends to rake in yet more money for the club by allowing a company to sponsor the name of its ground. But fear not - Lerner has said that the history and heritage of the club will be retained in any change to the name of their stadium. Apparently an early suggestion for a new title has proved controversial - it's 'Villa Park'.

I'm thinking we could see some highly commercial deals being done here. Maybe the team could be renamed Aston Martin and get them to play their games at PolyVilla Park?

Then there's the fight for the London 2012 stadium in Stratford, East London. Several clubs have been sniffing around looking to purchase the venue once its primary purpose has elapsed, but Tottenham Hotspur have now declared they're pulling out of such a move as "all grounds with a [running] track have a poor atmosphere, attendances are down and clubs say moving there was a mistake." What nonsense - it never did Brighton & Hove Albion any harm when they moved to the Withdean Stadium - or at least that's what the 1,740 miserable fans at their last home match told us.

Apparently West Ham United are now in "serious negotiations" to make it their new home - a move backed by both parties attempting a multi-millionaire takeover of the club. Speaking as a fan of the Hammers myself, I think it will be a lot more accessible for large crowds than Upton Park currently is, but it has to be said that the 'running track / atmosphere' issue is something that has to be given serious consideration.

And apparently the Football Association have reached a conclusion in its talks with Multiplex, the engineering company that won the contract to build the new Wembley Stadium, which means the Australian company will now be paid the outstanding money its due and the stadium will be finished in time for next year's FA Cup Final. Well isn't that marvellous. Instead of telling them they wouldn't get a penny unless the damn thing was finished by Christmas like anyone with any pride in it's national stadium would have done, they tell them everything will be OK and 'by the way, just carry on as before - no rush lads'.

Impressive it may look as you drive along the North Circular Road and very nice it may look when it's completely finished, but surely this must teach any discerning football association around the world one simple lesson? That is if you're planning to build a venue like this, you surely must employ builders that come from the same country as that which you're building the stadium for. That way they'll have so much inherent pride in the national team they support, they'll be only to keen to get the job done well and promptly. Or am I being too simplistic about the issue?

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