Friday, 17 February 2012

Shhh! Don't Mention a Ground Share

In this time of financial difficulties isn't ground sharing a sensible option? Across the continent ground sharing is a fairly common sight. Just look at the famous Milan clubs, long term residents of the San Siro. In Germany the 2 Munich clubs were set to share the fantastic Allianz Arena. Ultimately financial difficulties meant that 1860 were bought out by Bayern. So why is the idea ground sharing met with such resistance in this country?

Back in the 70's there was the idea of Arsenal and Tottenham ground sharing. The proposal was to build a new stadium on the grounds of Alexandra Palace. The idea however, remained idea. A ground share between these 2 rivals is nothing new however. During WW2 the clubs shared White Hart Lane. With Highbury being used by the army the Gunners took up residence with their north London rivals.

Back to the present day. One of the most logical ground shares would be between the 2 merseyside clubs. Both in need of new facilities but with limited space within the city centre and limited funds both have struggled to find a viable solution. Surely however a business minded person would see that a shared 60,000+ stadium in Stanley Park would be perfect for both clubs. Also a project like that is sure to be able to get council/government funding to rejuvenate the local community.

In the sporting Mecca that is Australia ground sharing is part and parcel of sporting infrastructure. The great MCG, home to over 100,000 seats is a multi sports arena used 12 months of the year. Where as over here in Britain many stadiums sit unused for months on end.

The only sport on our shores that seems to actively push ground shares is rugby. In London, 3 clubs in Irish, Saracens and Wasps have been sharing facilities with the likes of Reading, Watford and Wycombe for many seasons. Other than the occasional complaint from the groundsmen these symbiotic relationships have been of great benefit to the clubs and the running of the stadiums. With Saracens looking to relocate away from Vicarage Road to a purpose built facility at Copthall stadium the word ground share has been muttered by a few supporters of Barnet FC who are in desperate need for a new home. Plus with proposal of a state of the art synthetic pitch, wear and tear will not be an issue. Surely this sporting hub would be fantastic for the local community.

In conclusion, shared stadia is going to have to become more common if our great clubs are to survive. Also with a lack of space in inner cities clubs are being forced out to the baron wastelands of industrial estates. Let's keep these sporting churches packed to the rafters and keep our clubs close to the fans. If Milan can do it why can't Merseyside?

Greg Mackett

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