Plans afoot for changes at Eastlands?
According to the M.E.N. yesterday, the next step in the ADUG revolution could be to announce changes at Eastlands. Talks between City and the Council appear to have been ongoing for a while now, covering topics such as providing training facilities at Eastlands, expanding the ground capacity, and naming rights for the stadium.
The training facilities on the land around Eastlands are likely to be the first change, and it will fascinating to see what the plans are. There is talk of state-of-the-art facilities (aren’t they always?), but I don’t see that there is a sufficient amount of space even if we go right up to the gasometer by New Viaduct Street. Top level facilities take up a fair few acres, with Everton, for example, having 10 full size pitches at Finch Farm.
The M.E.N. state that the Council would like to benefit from any expansion, “with one idea being the provision of artificial pitches for public use.”
This sounds similar to the arrangement we’ve enjoyed at Platt Lane, which has always been one of the better links with the local community. However, the lack of privacy wasn’t deemed suitable for the first team and was one of the main reasons Joe Royle pushed for the move to Carrington.
Having the first team go back to training in a city centre location would seem a slightly strange move. Carrington is an easier commute for our Cheshire based stars. Maybe the plans will be to move the Academy to the new facilities and scale back Platt Lane.
Selling the naming rights for the stadium would hardly be a surprise. Such things are part of the commercialisation of football that don’t sit easily with the traditionalists, but given the investment made by ADUG and their stated aim of promoting Abu Dhabi, I think it’s a small price to pay. The name ‘City of Manchester Stadium’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and is hardly part of the long term history of the club.
By far the most significant change would be the stadium capacity, although this is said to be a lower priority. The Guardian also had a recent article about talks to expand the capacity to 60,000 if games continue to sell out.
As I wrote previously, I think this should be the minimum figure, given Liverpool (eventually) and Spurs could be building something similar. If Michel Platini manages to push through rules linking permitted expenditure on players to revenues, we would clearly be affected. City may want to look at expanding the capacity, and resulting revenues, in time for any such rules.
There was an interesting comment on the MEN piece, saying how the current stadium design doesn’t lend itself to expansion. I’m no expert, but I would have thought this as well. There is also limited space behind the South Stand, due to the proximity of Ashton New Road.
The commenter also claimed to have heard that one idea was to build a new 80-90,000 stadium on the current car-park by the gasometer, and do away with the current ground. Now that would be radical! And I’m not going to start believing it until I see the diggers going in, but it’s still fun to speculate.
Afterall the ADUG people associated with City have experience in property development, and only our owners are capable of such a bold move. Clearly it would involve City purchasing the current stadium and land off the Council, and surely counters the idea of building training facilities on the current car-park.
I still remember the pull-out poster of a fantastic new stadium that came with a match programme in the Forward With Franny era. It was the old Third Division soon afterwards. Happy days.
- Has anyone else heard anything on developments at Eastlands, or remember that stadium poster?