Is it time for a minimum capacity in Premier League grounds?
As the Premier League season gets into full swing once again with all the mega stadiums springing up, should grounds in the top flight have a minimum capacity?
What is the criteria of a big club? It is an age old question, asked on regular occasions with fans citing trophies and history as reasons why they should, or should not be, considered a bigger club than anyone else.
One measurement of how big a club is is the often-mentioned argument over the amount of fans that said outfit has and how many people actually pay to go and watch them on a regular basis.
That then begs the question – should their be a minimum capacity on grounds in the Premier League? And if you are a club who does not possess that capacity should you be denied entry into the top flight?
In recent years, billions of pounds have been spent on new stadia, with both Tottenham and Arsenal building new homes, both of which hold over 60,000, as fans flock to watch the likes of Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a weekly basis.
Manchester United’s Old Trafford was improved significantly in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and the current capacity there is approaching 76,000, while at Anfield, Liverpool are regularly watched by over 54,000. Furthermore, West Ham, Manchester City and Newcastle all have capacities of over 50,000.
But for every Old Trafford there is a Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth’s ground holds less than 11,500 seats and surely there should be a minimum requirement above that?
Is it fair that Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is regularly handed a large transfer chest to spend in windows, this summer they brought in over £50m worth of new talent to the club.
Is that fair to any other side who’s transfer budget has been restricted because they have spent most of their money on upgrading their grounds so more fans can get into watch.
The Cherries would be the only current club to suffer if the minimum capacity were set at 20,000 in the Premier league, a figure which does not appear to be too hard to achieve.
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To underline the issue, Widnes, of the North West Counties League, play at the Halton Stadium with a capacity of 13,350. That’s almost 2,000 more people than you can fit in at Premier League Bournemouth.
Some people argue clubs should be made to cut their cloth accordingly.They may say that if you have more people watching than your neighbour then maybe you should be able to spend more on transfers.
Of course, the counter argument is that if you have a perfectly modern stadium that ticks all the boxes, apart from the one asking if the ground holds over 20,000, then why should they be punished? It would also possibly deter other similarly less-supported sides from aiming high and trying to make it to the Premier League if there was a restriction in place in terms of mimimum capacity.
Some of the bigger clubs may not like it, but surely Bournemouth deserve their place among the elite thanks to their continued good results on the pitch? And they, and others, should not be discounted simply because they have a small stadium.