Etihad Stadium’s Expansion: Worth it or Futile?

etihad_stadium09English giants Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since 2008 when the club was acquired by billionaire Sheikh Mansoor with the constant struggle in the initial years’ largely forgotten by the supporters. The same opponents who deemed the prospect of acquiring 3 points against the Citizens as nothing short of a cakewalk earlier now shiver in fear at the prospect of battling it out against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

This has been largely possible due to the finances pumped in at regular intervals by the owners who have ensured a regular flow of finances through thick and thin. At the same time, there have been astute investments at play as well especially in the transfer market. Manchester City opted to invest in quality acquisitions like Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany during a stage when clubs were increasingly orthodox when it came to pulling off transfer deals with the benefits increasingly evident currently.

Sergio Aguero and David Silva have gone on to emerge as legendary figures at Manchester City with their performances nothing short of a terror for the opposition. The club lifted their first ever Premier League title under Italian Roberto Mancini with the Argentinian striker scoring the winner in injury time after being tied level on points with arch-rivals Manchester United. This milestone would have been deemed impossible back in the day when battling it out against Manchester United on a level pegging was deemed nothing short of a dream.

Not only this, the club also indicated the immense ambition they enjoy in their arsenal after attracting none other than legendary manager Pep Guardiola to the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola was swayed by the City project and decided to sign up for the journey after initially indicating a sense of reluctance towards being involved with English football. The project has emerged as a major success with the club increasingly closer towards enjoying Champions League glory which is a testimony to their progress over the years.

The next stage in the Manchester City’s master plan points towards the need for an elite, world-class stadium which has the ability to house the ever-increasing fanbase. The numbers certainly speak for themselves. With an awe-inspiring average of ticket sales worth 98%, 10000 supporters on a waiting list along with 41000 season ticket holders, there is certainly every reason for expansion.

Some of the biggest footballing sides like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich boast of iconic stadiums capable of drawing the attention of the masses with the sheer grandeur on show. The club management has indicated a desire to indulge in a second expansion which will enjoy the capacity to house 61000 fans, an iconic figure in itself. This will make the Etihad Stadium the second biggest in the whole of England trailing rivals Manchester United.

While the critics believe that the stadium expansion is simply a futile effort considering media reports which term the supporters in bad light deeming the ticket sales to be battling an all-time low, the facts are certainly quite different as stated earlier. An iconic stadium with the ability to house fans in huge numbers can act as the perfect symbol of Manchester City’s potential to compete with the giants of world football on a level footing.

At the same time, the move also has the ability to affect their revenue share with an increase in ticket sales ensuring higher profits contributing towards their overall sustainability in a critical fashion. Not only this, a well-endowed stadium can also boost their overall commercial value attracting the attention of some of the biggest brands which has the ability to emerge as a coup in the coming years.

The decision certainly seems like a wise one on paper though there is an immense need for effective execution at the same time.

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