THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

4 September ~ You could have forgiven Plymouth fans for being excited at the inclusion of their local football stadium in England's World Cup 2018 bid when it was announced last December. However, the team has since slipped into the third tier. To avoid the stadium becoming a white elephant, filled to only a quarter of its capacity, Argyle would need to be in the Premier League, or at least be strongly competing to move towards it.

The building work is on course, should England's bid be successful, to be completed in time for 2014-15. But with average gates of 10,316 in the Championship last season, and now playing in League One, the club needs to move fast in order to avoid the embarrassment of "doing a Darlo" and filling a paltry amount of seats in a 46,000-seat stadium, the final capacity when work is finished.

On August 12, full plans for the redevelopment were released. Estimated to cost a stunning £150 million, it will include an ice rink, a three-star hotel and a cinema. Should the redevelopment come to pass, the local rugby team, Plymouth Albion, will potentially share it and an adjacent arena will be used by basketball outfit Plymouth Raiders.

It can't be denied that if the council pulls it off, it will be a fantastic addition to Devon. Meanwhile, the venue's tenants have slumped to defeats at home to Peterborough and away at Walsall in the past month. Argyle have a lot to live up to and don’t have long to turn things around.

It seems strange to put this added pressure on a team that has never played in the top flight – but it is perhaps forgivable given that up to 2009, Argyle had improved their league position every year since the turn of the millennium. Peter Reid, out of management since 2005 barring a short stint as boss of the Thai national team, took charge in the summer and guided his new club to a shock win away at title favourites Southampton on the opening day. But Argyle haven't won since.

League One visitors to Home Park this season will see a top-of-the-range pitch, installed this summer (a whole phase of the redevelopment plans was devoted to the pitch, costing £500,000). But maintaining such a large venue, complete with concessions and corporate facilities, could be turn out to be a logistical and financial nightmare.

While fans in the south-west have a lot to look forward to should football indeed "come home" in eight years’ time, the first game at the redeveloped Home Park still seems more likely to be against Leyton Orient than Liverpool. Starting this summer, with every year that Plymouth waste their ground will get bigger. Ollie Taylor

Comments (6)
Comment by Green83 2010-09-04 21:22:33

One of the things that you fail to mention is that the development of the ground has the opportunity to make the capacity larger or smaller. It is not merely 'one size fits all' but can grow with increasing gates, but also importantly can be scaled back if need be.

Do you think Mr Taylor that just because Plymouth currently have a L1 team that the south-west of England should be deprived of high grade sporting facilities? If you look at the development as a whole it designed to encompass a whole range of recreational improvements to the local area delivering exactly the sort of post world cup legacy that FIFA are so keen on. If you take your article through to a logical conclusion I suppose the WC shouldn't have been in South Africa this year really, because what will happen to the stadiums now?

Comment by jb5000 2010-09-05 01:10:01

A few games in Plymouth isn't the problem with the world cup bid, it's the guardians of our national game seeing fit to give a scrap to Milton Keynes - a stab in the back of every football fan in the country.

Comment by Max Payne 2010-09-05 10:58:34

Well well, if it isn't the delusional Cornish and their "Too big to fail" embarrassment of a football team. Forget the white Elephant, the shite eleven lumps on the pitch are going to take you down, slimers, to league two and out the trapdoor where you yokel moonshine swiggers belong. World Cup stadium? Knocking on the door of the Premier League? Nurse!

Comment by RedOne 2010-09-06 13:15:31

"Comment by Green83 04-09-2010 21:22 [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment]
One of the things that you fail to mention is that the development of the ground has the opportunity to make the capacity larger or smaller. It is not merely 'one size fits all' but can grow with increasing gates, but also importantly can be scaled back if need be"

Just checking my maths mate, but a quarter full 46,000 seater stadium or a nearly full 10,000 seater stadium (with 36,000 seats taken out and hidden round the back) still costs the same 150m quid?

Its shonky maths - the same as the clots who wanted to make the olympic stadium a community vegetable-patch afterwards, rather than let West Ham use the seats for something useful. "Take the seats out, its no longer a white elephant"! As Richard Hammond would say, "I can see what you've done here"!

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-09-06 13:16:49

@ Green83

Well, quite a few people did make that point about the World Cup in South Africa. Why build houses when you can just bulldoze the slums and build stadia for footie?

Comment by jhnalford 2010-09-13 10:41:47

Not quite sure what Max Payne has against Plymouth Argyle. Can't take his rant very seriously, especially as he doesn't know his geography - Plymouth is in Devon.

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