Sunday, August 12, 2007

UK fans select Europe's best football stadiums

Old Trafford, home of English Premier League Champions Manchester United, has been voted Europe’s best football stadium by the UK’s travelling fans while Liverpool’s Anfield boasts the best atmosphere of any European club. A UK property consultancy, Drivers Jonas, commissioned the survey to better understand what fans want from their stadia. In the study fans were asked to rate the European clubs they had visited, other than their own, in terms of the facilities, view of the pitch, and access to and from the ground. It followed a similar study in 2005 where fans voted Hull’s KC stadium the best with Old Trafford the fans favourite. This time Old Trafford topped the league followed by Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, Barcelona’s Nou Camp, Newcastle’s St James’s Park and Manchester City’s City of Manchester stadium.

However, fans also voted unanimously that the single most important thing that makes a top quality football stadium is atmosphere and none do that better than Liverpool fans at Anfield, according to visitors to the ground. Celtic Park came second for atmosphere followed by Portsmouth’s Fratton Park, which beat the Nou Camp into fourth place with Newcastle’s St James’s Park propping up the top five.

Security at football stadia on mainland Europe has been in the headlines this year, an issue borne out in the survey results. Barcelona’s Nou Camp was voted the best ground for security in Europe while Rome’s Stadio Olimpico being the worst by far. But overall fans are more likely to feel safe when visiting a German club than those of any other European nation, although Bayern Munich is the only German club to make the top five for safety. Travelling fans are best placed to judge how easy it is to get to and from a football ground, and the majority of them voted Spurs’ White Hart Lane the worst club in Europe for its transport – while half the top ten best stadia for transport are foreign – Barcelona’s Nou Camp, Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena, Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium and Milan’s San Siro – perhaps highlighting fans’ frustration at Britain’s troubled transport system compared to those of Europe.

“Atmosphere is the most important criteria for fans when assessing the quality of the stadium but the view of the pitch, quality of seating, ease of access and the standard of the facilities provided are also important. It’s about getting that mix right as well as providing top quality football that clubs have to consider when building or developing their stadia and this survey shows we’re more successful at that than clubs in Europe as far as British football fans are concerned,” Geoff Aucock, Partner at Drivers Jonas and head of the company’s sports division, said. “The study clearly shows that fans’ enjoyment is not just measured in terms of the quality of the football, it’s about the whole match-day experience. Fans appreciate good stadia facilities, ease of access and most of all, a fantastic atmosphere. With Wembley now open for business it will be interesting to see if this magnificent stadium can steal the top spots in future and whether Liverpool can replicate the atmosphere of Anfield within their new stadium development plans,” he said.

No comments: