The Emirates Stadium is reportedly not on the list of the ten neutral venues being put forward as an option for behind-closed-door games.
The thinking is the 60,000-seater stadium would be likely to draw crowds outside the stadium area for behind-closed-doors games.
When it was designed in the noughties, that precaution wasn’t a factor in the design thinking.
The current lower Premier League clubs are arguing that home advantage is worth an extra half point per game – a factor which should be taken into consideration if games behind closed doors and live game football betting starts up.
In the press this week there were calls for a statue of Arsene Wenger at The Emirates. Ray Parlour is quoted as saying: “He deserves a statue. He’s the one who created the Emirates, if you like. He’s the one who had that focus to say Highbury, as much as we all loved it, was not big enough.”
Perhaps there should be two statues. One for the 1996-2006 period and the other for 2007-2018.
The Emirates doesn’t generally come high in polls for best stadia.
A couple of years ago, La Marca ran a poll on the best stadium in the world. Top was The Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ home ground, followed by the Turk Telekom Arena, which hosts Galatasaray. Spain took third, fourth and fifth and sixth with Santiago Bernabéu – Real Madrid, Wanda Metropolitano – Atlético de Madrid and Camp Nou – Barcelona and San Mamés – Athletic Bilbao. Germany and England took the remaining places with Signal Iduna Park – Borussia Dortmund, Wembley – the England team, Anfield – Liverpool and the Allianz Arena – Bayern Munich.
The Bombonera is translated as chocolate box and was designed to keep the noise in and it emphasises the noise of fans jumping. It is intimidating and atmospheric.
The original design was finished in 1940, but the powers that be wanted more fans to attend, so extra tiers were built on three sides over the ensuing decades. The fact it is the smallest size pitch allowed under FIFA regulations, helps the atmosphere.
It is said that the nickname came about after Viktor Sulčič, the Slovenian architect living in Buenos Aires and charged with designing the stadium was given a box of chocolates as a birthday present. Sulčič used to go with the box at meetings with engineer Jose Luis Delpine and others on the project to show them that the box shape was very like the one of the stadium they were designing.
The blue and yellow reflects the port area it resides in. In fact, there is a story about how the original black and white kit was copied by a rival team and there was a vote that the colours of the team would be of the next ship that docked in La Boca.
The steep-sides, reminds of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff with the noise and atmosphere kept in within the ground.
Some say a drawback of the Emirates are the ‘whalebone dips’ on the four corners, which in some ways lets the atmosphere seep out to some degree.
There are reasons it was designed this way. Arsene Wenger wanted to keep the grass in near perfect condition and to do this it had to be kept aerated. Always science over emotion for the Frenchman. Also, in a built-up residential area there was a limit to the heights the stadium could go – above the surrounding houses.
A good site for more information on football stadia is StadiumDB. It runs an annual top 20 football stadium competition.