Stadium expansions that could support UK and Ireland 2030 World Cup bid

Posted on 08 March 2021

If Boris Johnson gets his way then football will be coming home in 2030.With fans desperate to get back into stadiums, the prospect of a UK and Ireland 2030 World Cup has got football supporters salivating. In 2030, FIFA’s World Cup will be played between 48 teams, meaning 16 stadiums will be needed. Under FIFA’s rules each stadium would need to hold at least 40,000 fans, with 60,000-seater venues needed for the semi-finals and an 80,000-seater arena needed to host the final. Wembley, the Millennium Stadium and London’s Olympic Stadium (known as the London Stadium) will of course host their fair share of the tournament – as will Old Trafford, The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the Aviva Stadium in Ireland (although it will need a new name due to FIFA's rules on sponsorship). But there are also plenty of stadium projects to build new stadiums or expand existing grounds which would boost the chance of a bid being accepted.

Everton Stadium

Plans for Everton Football Club's new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock were given the go-ahead by Liverpool City Council’s planning committee last month, paving the way for construction of the new 52,000-seater stadium. The LCC report includes a number of conditions to granting the application. These include the redevelopment of Goodison Park beginning within three years from the first use of Bramley-Moore Dock, the repair of the hydraulic engine house and provision of agreed ecological mitigation measures.

It also encourages fans to embrace sustainable transport modes when travelling to the proposed stadium. The Premier League club hopes to host games at the Bramley-Moore Dock site as early as 2024, giving it plenty of time to be ready for the 2030 World Cup.

The stadium has been designed by MEIS architects and engineers BuroHappold, with Laing O'Rourke lined up to build the stadium if it gets the go-ahead.The proposed stadium has also been designed to withstand floods for the next 100 years.

Stamford Bridge

The revamp of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium remain firmly on ice as things stand. However, changes made to planning legislation last year mean Chelsea’s planning permission remains in place for a few more months– although a decision would be needed pretty quickly to get things back up and running. Work has never got underway at the site after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich pulled the project after its estimated cost rose from £500,000 to an estimated £1bn. Under the original plan drawn up by WSP, the existing 41,600-seater stadium in west London would be demolished to make way for the construction of the new 60,000 capacity football stadium and an ancillary stadium – meaning it could be a semi-final candidate. The 6.2ha site is bounded by London Underground’s District line to the north-west, and the Southern mainline railway to the east. Currently, these lines are in open air cuttings, but to increase the capacity of the stadium, decks would be built over the top of the lines to allow the footprint of the stadium to be increased. Under the plans, the roof of the stadium would be supported by 264 radial steel roof trusses that will span 50m over the stadium bowl. The trusses are supported by a steel tension ring arrangement which is supported by the same number of vertical concrete columns around the stadium’s perimeter. The main columns around the perimeter of the structure would then be clad in brick.

St James' Park

What many consider to be the true home of football, a World Cup without St James' Park doesn’t bear thinking about. The current 52,000-seater stadium would be a front runner to host matches in it's current guise, however there are also lofty expansion plans in the pipeline – albeit contingent on Mike Ashley ‘getting out of our club’ (as the Geordie faithful will encourage when the fans return to their rightful place). If a takeover does go through it is understood that a demolition and rebuild of the ground could soon follow. The brainchild of engineer and architect John Henry, the plan would involve demolishing the existing ground, flipping it 90 degrees and rebuilding a 70,000-seater, Tottenham-style development. It’s understood that the plans were shared with Amanda Staveley during the long-running takeover saga that fizzled out into nothing. Whether or not any other prospective takeover bidders would be keen remains to be seen.

Hampden Park

The Scottish stadium holds the European record for highest ever attendance as 149,547 witnessed Scotland play England in 1937. Due to host matches at Euro 2021 this summer, the stadium also is due to undergo a renovation, which would include the pitch being lowered and stands bought closer to the pitch.

Elland Road

Leeds are back in the bigtime and all football fans are loving watching Biesla’s boys in action (well most). A few more seasons in the Premier League and Leeds are likely to have the cash to fund previously-mooted expansion plans. Elland Road would have to be significantly redeveloped to stage World Cup matches, but plans are in place to build new stands as part of a gradual renovation, bumping the capacity up to 50,000.

Anfield

Anfield has been redeveloped a number of times in recent years,with further plans to rebuild the Anfield Road stand led by Mott MacDonald that would take capacity over 61,000. Should Everton’s stadium be built before 2030 – as is expected – Merseyside could become central to the UK and Ireland World Cup bid.

The Etihad

Manchester City’s 55,000-seater stadium would most likely be used as a World Cup stadium in it’s current guise. However, expansion plans – currently paused indefinitely – could be put back on the table in a bid to play a more prominent role with the world watching.

The likely-to-be Premier League champions have previously outlined plans to expand the stadium’s north stand since adding 6,000 extra seats to the east stand. However chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak put the brakes on the project during the height of the pandemic. City have played at the 55,000-capacity arena since 2003, with the stadium having been built initially to stage the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The additional 8,000 seats planned would make the stadium eligible to host semi-final games at the World Cup which could be a driver for the club’s owners to act sooner rather than later.

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