With the 10-year Club Wembley debentures set to run out on the England National Team in 2017, The Football Association is considering venues throughout the country to host home matches in 2018.
The consideration is part of a broad look at how to best use Wembley, with an NFL franchise high on the list of wishes to fill the stadium on a more frequent basis.
The “new” Wembley stadium opened in 2007 and was built on the same site where the “old” Wembley was demolished in 2003. During that four-year span in which the $1.2 billion national stadium was being built, matches were held at venues across England, including Old Trafford, Villa Park and St James’ Park. Currently, in addition to National Team matches, Wembley hosts the FA Cup final, the Football League Cup play-offs and final, the Football League trophy and the FA Community Shield.
While the FA intends to keep Wembley as the National Team’s home stadium, the expiration of the contract has the association considering a more flexible approach that would be sure to lift fans around England. A major boost to a broader model would be that every match of The Three Lions would sell out, avoiding issues like last month when the friendly against Norway left the stadium half-full.
Hard to think that many fans would be opposed to this approach and it’s interesting to think what kind of additional advantages such a move could have. Certainly it would make travel more difficult for opposing teams. And while weather across England is relatively similar, there are certain stadiums – Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium comes to mind – where the elements can be pretty rough on outsiders. Then, of course, there is the slight variance in fans as supporters outside London tend to be a bit more manic than those in the capital — all components that would help undue the more technical sides in Europe.