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Opinion: Wembley Stadium - An expensive luxury we could do without

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£600 million. That's how much business tycoon Shahid Khan was prepared to pay to take Wembley off the FA's hands.

However, last week talks broke down and now it seems the FA are stuck with what was once considered the national treasure, begging the question, do England and the FA actually need a national stadium?

The new Wembley opened over 10 years ago, after a major project costing almost £800 million (£1.09 billion in today's money) and lasting over seven years. It has hosted the majority of England games since and all major domestic cup finals and even FA Cup semi-finals. The FA have also profited by hosting two Champions League finals.

Khan's offer may not have recouped what the FA actually paid in building costs but, should the sale have gone through it would be safe to assume that in terms of profit Wembley would have been a success through the games it hosted.

If we are to go back in time, did Wembley even need rebuilding? Do we actaully need a national stadium? In the seven years between the old Wembley being knocked down and the new one being rebuilt England toured the country, mainly playing at Old Trafford however, other stadiums were also used whilst the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff was used for major cup finals, why can't we go back to that?

In 2016, before the European Championships, England played two warm up matches away from Wembley, first at the Ethiad and then at Sunderland's Stadium of Light. This year, before their heoric World Cup campaign, Gareth Southgate's men took on Costa Rica in a World Cup warm up match at Elland Road. The ticket sales were a major success and the atmopshere seen was better than anything visable at Wembley.

The pros of England touring the country outweighs any cons it may have. Arguably the England football team hasn't been in such a strong positon for a very long time and for younger fans, there's never been a better time to be an England supporter so would it not make sense for the FA to use this as a positon of strength? Why not let young people in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham etc see Harry Kane and co. too? 

The arguement suggested could be that Wembley almost offers a pilgrimage type of experience but for people living in the north, travel, tickets and accomodation collate to a very expensive day out. In additon, Wembley ticket sales are not great, we often see empty seats and a flat atmopshere, you just have to take a look at Elland Road to see this wouldn't be the case at other grounds.

England are a minority having a national stadium and playing all there games in one location. England played Spain last week in Real Betis' stadium, Spain are known for touring across the country and allowing everyone a chance to see the national team. Similar things are in place with other big countires, Brazil, Italy, Holland and Portugal to name a few, all do not have national stadiums. 

If the FA were to sell Wembley then the money could be put to a good use, back in grassroots football, improving facilities and general upgrades. The England football team could tour the country and bring everyone back in touch with the national team and not have to travel to London to do so. Wembley might be a fine stadium but it's an expensive luxary that we could do without. 

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Image rights - geograph.org - http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1119861 




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