Legalities of building a new football stadium

Football clubs moving to new stadiums

In recent years there has been a trend of football clubs moving to completely newly developed stadiums. One of the main reasons behind this is that they have been playing in the same stadium since their inception more than 100 years ago in some cases. Obviously they have been able to improve the old stadium over the years but in many cases a move to a new stadium is the desired option.

Why would a club wish to move to a new stadium?

Often the existing stadium which a football club plays their home games at is located within a residential area meaning that it is extremely difficult to add to the existing structure to increase the capacity of the stadium.

Why would a football club wish to increase the capacity of the stadium?

One of the biggest revenue streams for a football club is through ticket sales for match days. If a popular club has a small stadium but a huge demand for tickets it follows that in order to generate the income which their fan base allows, the capacity of the stadium would need to be increased.

Would a football team need permission to increase the capacity of an already existing stadium?

If a football team were to wish to increase the capacity of an already existing statement they would need to obtain planning permission to do this.

Is it likely to be granted?

In a lot of cases planning permission from the local council will be granted. However, in certain circumstances there will be certain issues which may affect the building of the stadium such as already existing structures as housing located near the stadium and railways. If the building structure is likely to affect the living conditions of local residents then it is likely that the planning permission will not be granted, unless the club agrees to improve the conditions of the local residents.

If this is the case the football club may feel that it is a desirable position to build a new stadium elsewhere.

How will this be done?

In order for this to be done the football club will have to decide on a plot of land and will have to purchase that plot of land with a view to building the stadium there.

Does planning permission have to be granted for the stadium to be built?

When a football club wishes to build a new stadium they will need to obtain planning permission from the UK Government before they can go ahead and build the structure.

What department will they need to obtain permission from?

When wishing to build a new stadium the football club will need to obtain permission from the council which deals with the area. The UK Government will also discuss the issue with their advisor on architecture, urban design and public space – the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment (CABE).

There are a variety of issues which will have to be dealt with thoroughly before permission to build a new football stadium can be provided.

What are these issues?

One of the biggest issues which the football club will have to deal with is the affect on the area surrounding the new build. The UK Government will not be concerned with the potential money making capabilities of a new stadium, with the main issue being what will happen to the area surrounding the stadium. Accordingly the club will be required to undertake some form of regeneration on the area.

What is meant by regeneration?

Regeneration is the term used in relation to improvements in an existing locality. When a new football stadium is built such things as new housing developments and funds for the local communities are included within a regeneration project. If the local community is to be disturbed by a new stadium then will have to be given something back in return.

For example when Arsenal built a new stadium in Ashburton Grove as well as financing the new build they were also responsible for financing housing developments and community facilities.

Will a new stadium be refused planning permission on the grounds of regeneration?

During January 2010 the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment refused to back a planning application for Tottenham Hotspur to build a new stadium. The reasoning behind this was that it was felt that the plan for the overall site was not evident. Despite having three components – the stadium, supermarket and housing it was felt that they were separate projects without convincing spatial relationships between them.

How will a club finance building a new stadium?

Often a football club will finance the building of a new stadium by obtaining large sums through loans. It is thought that this money can be recouped through the ticket sales and all other money generated by the football club.

Will the club sell their old stadium?

Often the club may sell the site to their old stadium to building developers. Often building developers are extremely keen to buy the site of an old football stadium as fans of that club would be extremely pleased to live on the site of their clubs former ground.