Kitbag Countdown: The UK’s Biggest Club Grounds
Saturday night saw a jubilant Liverpool open Anfield’s newly-expanded Main Stand with a 4-1 thumping of champions Leicester City (pictured). But where does the Reds’ redeveloped home rank among the top ten British club capacities? Kitbag.com counts the grounds down.
20 years old next summer, Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is the first of six English Premier League grounds to feature in our countdown, boasting an official capacity of 48,707. A top flight stadium for most of their campaigns since the two-mile move from Roker Park, the home of the Black Cats has played host to some real relegation dogfights; 46,454 witnessing the latest, as Sunderland preserved their EPL status in the final home game of 2015-16.
One of nine stadia whose capacity exceeds 50,000, Rangers attracted exceptional crowds to Ibrox during their climb of the lower leagues, including an incredible 50,048 seats for the visit of League Two outfit Berwick Rangers in May 2013. As Mark Warburton’s men battle to restore the ground’s former glories, Rangers can claim to be one of the best supported clubs in the British Isles; with Ibrox and its famed façade one of Scottish football’s most iconic sights.
08. Queen’s Park
Though it may be more commonly known for hosting the Scotland national team, to the supporters of Queen’s Park Football Club, Hampden Park is simply home. An admitted red herring amidst the heavyweights of our list, Queen’s Park themselves have lived a long and varied existence, even reaching the finals of the English FA Cup on two occasions during the 1800s. Nowadays, the Spiders tackle the likes of Stenhousemuir and Stranraer in the third tier of Scottish football, attracting typically three-figure crowds to the cavernous national bowl.
07. Newcastle United
Newcastle United might have dropped into English football’s second tier, for only the second time in the Premier League era, yet St. James’ Park remains comfortably among the biggest club grounds in the entire United Kingdom. With the famous Toon Army one of the most loyal and fervent sets of supporters around, Newcastle’s attendances have stayed in strong health, in spite of their relegation. To that extent, more than 52,000 fans turned out for the first home match of the Magpies’ Championship season, a 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town.
Abandoning plans for a new site at neighbouring Stanley Park, Liverpool’s expansion of Anfield ensures that the club will celebrate 125 years at their historic home ground with a bolstered 54,074 capacity. With Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish, Ian St. John, Ian Rush, Phil Thompson and Mark Lawrenson all on hand for its ceremonial opening, Anfield’s mighty Main Stand (pictured right) now incorporates an all-new press box and sprawling views across Merseyside, as well as additionally space for some 8,000 extra Reds supporters.
05. Manchester City
Defying the detractors, Manchester City toppled their Etihad Stadium attendance record earlier in the year, as 54,963 turned out for the visit of Premier League champions-elect Leicester City. Enthused by the appointment of Pepe Guardiola, attendances at the Etihad have remained over the 54,000-mark for City’s first games of the new campaign; the 2002 Commonwealth Games venue having added a towering top tier to its South Stand in 2015.
04. West Ham United
Another venue designed for track and field (in this case, the 2012 Olympic Games), West Ham United’s London Stadium is the newest of all stadia on our list, holding a capacity of around 57,000. Opening its doors for club football with August’s friendly against Serie A champions Juventus, the happy Hammers have experienced mixed fortunes since setting up shop in Stratford, though a reported 50,000 season ticket sales bodes well for their future in E20.
Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium is the English capital’s largest club ground, taking in record levels of revenue ahead of its tenth anniversary next month. While the former Premier League champions have been keen to keep attendance figures close to their chest, the Gunners’ North London home typically registers close to its 60,000-capacity; with even its lowest-attended fixture, a League Cup tie with Shrewsbury Town, attracting a formidable 46,539.
The second biggest facility on our list and the biggest in all of Scotland, Scottish Premiership champions Celtic are capable of welcoming more than 60,000 spectators to evergreen Celtic Park, with the mighty Barcelona among those set to visit Parkhead in the coming months. Meanwhile, the summer saw the installation of all-new rail seating in the Lisbon Lions’ stand, enabling almost 3,000 Hoops fans to back the Bhoys from a standing position this season.
01. Manchester United
Expanded emphatically a decade ago to take its number of seats way beyond 70,000, Manchester United might have been beaten on home turf last Saturday, yet the Reds run out runaway winners of our capacity countdown, by a margin of around 15,000! At latest count, an incredible 75,635 fans could be accommodated inside their deluxe Old Trafford home; only Wembley holds more. However, with demand for key games continuing to outstrip places available, one might expect United to expand even further, should the opportunity arise. AC