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Old July 8th, 2012, 03:14 PM   #1
Chrechan
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Big stadiums, big cities and small countries

Today, many large cities in small countries of central and southeastern Europe have a problem to built or not to build big stadiums. We talk about cost of construction with regard to the current visit of football matches.

Let me give an example of the state in which I live - Croatia.
Croatia is a country of 4,5 million inhabitants. The capital city of Zagreb has with the surrounding area about one million. The second largest city is Split with only 200,000. Yet these two cities have two major football clubs for which 95% Croatians who care for football support.
These are the Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split. For example, I live 100 km from Zagreb and 500 km from Split. Here in my town 65% of people cheering for Dinamo, 30% for Hajduk, ​​while only 5% for the local or any other club.
In Zagreb there is Maksimir stadium. He has 38.000 seats. The Croatian league matches to be used many times only for 2-3 thousand people. But when they play international games, the stadium is full. Last season the stadium was filled and against weak teams like Neftchi, Helsinki and Malmo. Clearly it was full against Real Madrid, Ajax and Lyon. So see a big difference in visiting Croatian league and European matches. Up to ten times. This is because the Croatian league is very weak. Dinamo is champions seven years in a row and it points to a huge difference. Only around 15-20 thousand came to the match against Hajduk.
So, another club is Hajduk Split. They have a nice stadium Poljud with 35.000 saets. Although coming from a smaller town in Croatia have almost the same number of fans as well as Dinamo. And they filled the stadium with no problems until the end when is some important European matches or when they hope that they can beat Dinamo. They have fantastic fans. The only problem is that their club is not even close to organized as a Dinamo.
Besides these two clubs everything else is really bad. There is no one team that can gather more than 5 thousand people. Because that the league is so bad. You know in October that Dinamo will be a champion, and the other clubs just watch how to pay their bills.
To summarized, both of the largest stadium in Croatia are full only a few times in a year and that when they play international games or when playing our great national team.

A similar situation exists in other neighboring states and cities. I'm referring to Belgrade, Budapest, Prague, Sofia ... These are all huge cities with huge capacity, but their states are too small for the top leagues. All of them have only a few clubs with a large number of fans (Red Star, Partizan, Slavia, Sparta, Ferencvaros, Levski, CSKA …).
But all along we can have a phenomenal league. So I think it would be good to make a joint competition.

In this case there will be a need for large, modern stadiums. That could help UEFA giving Euro 2020 in all these countries. Platini has already said that Euro 2020 is held in 12 cities in several countries. We need it more than western Europe. And our potential is huge.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 02:11 PM   #2
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Euro 2020 won't help anything. It will be one-time event. And with so many stadiums, you will have only few games in each.

I think Croatia and many other smaller european countires face the same problem. Their leagues can produce only 2-3 strong teams and weaker rest. With that setup, even best teams from smaller countries can never rival those from major european football leagues from England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. The solution, IMO should be to establish several pannational european leagues, like Balkan or Scandinavian league, in which best teams from articipating countries would play, leaving national leagues as 2nd tier competitions. Those pannational league would also take part european competitions.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 03:32 PM   #3
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Well, we in Croatia certainly need Euro in football. Why ? Here we can build large sports facilities just in case getting bigger competition. It is sad but true. Beautiful Poljud stadium (35.000) in Split was built for the Mediterranean Games 1979. More buildings were built for the Universiade in Zagreb 1987. Beautiful indoor sporthalls, including Arena Zagreb (15.000) and Spaladium Arena (12.000) in Split were built for the World Handball Championship before two years.

And I agree with you that we need football leagues with teams from several countries.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 05:19 PM   #4
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First thought when i read the name of this thread: Qatar 2022.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 06:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PejatBR View Post
First thought when i read the name of this thread: Qatar 2022.
Wrong.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 07:47 PM   #6
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I wouldnt' call cities of 1 M and 200k big. In the US those would be minor league cities, cities like Sacramento, Omaha, Des Moises, Tulsa, etc don't have major stadiums and are bigger cities that those in Croatia so its not just a Eastern European thing for a city of 1+ million to not a have a large stadium.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 08:13 PM   #7
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It's a real possibility to have an UEFA Euro hosted in 3 countries or more at the same time ?
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Old July 12th, 2012, 12:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PejatBR View Post
It's a real possibility to have an UEFA Euro hosted in 3 countries or more at the same time ?
Yes. Platini says so.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 12:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrechan View Post
Yes. Platini says so.
Hi, what Platini suggested is that Euro 2020 could be played in "super"cities all across Europe like London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow etc... Imagine Platini's smile thinking of organizing an Euro 2020 with all stadiums over 70/80000 capacity. Sadly, i don't think Palatini has cities like Zagreb, Budapest, Bucarest... in mind

Personally, about the opening post, if your 38000 stadium gets only full 3 to 6 games a year, once 15-20000 and the rest of matches much below 5000, that stadium is clearly bigger what the team/city needs.
It's very beautiful having a great big stadium, but many pepole forget that the bigger the stadium the (much more) expensive is to maintain. I dare to say that a stadium maintenance curve is not linear but exponencial to the size. To me, he best example, is MLS. Not oversizing stadiums reduces costs, maximize revenues and gets a great attendance experience.

About other big city in small country, i think of Montevideo and Uruguay. The share city/country is 2 million inhabitants (in metropolitan area) out of country's 3.5 million. The main stadium in Montevideo (Estadio Centenario) holds 65000
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Old July 15th, 2012, 03:54 PM   #10
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Portugal is a perfect example of this.

Euro 2004 was brilliant, but it built too many stadiums with big capacities for no reason. Apart from he stadiums in Porto and Lisbon, none of the other stadiums come even close to selling out, not even in matches against Porto, Sporting CP or Benfica.

For example, the stadiums in Aveiro and Leiria fit 30,000 people more or less, in cities of 78,000 and 50,000, respectively.
They're too big, and it's no surprise to find out that UD Leiria had to move out because the stadium fees were too high. It moved to a 6,000 capacity athletics stadium and it still struggled to get half the stadium full.

Then we have the case of the Estádio do Algarve. It also fits 30,000 people, but it's in the middle of nowhere, in between two cities that in total have less than 75,000 people. It has no permanent tennants and all it does is host a couple of internacional fixtures, pre-season matches and a couple of matches by the nearby lower-league teams. It's not even used for concerts, which would be a very good use of it.

It's quite disappointing, but it's something that can't be fixed.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #11
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Pozinhossc and amq55 are not well understood what I wanted to say. My idea is that the small states with big cities should join together in a common league. Then will be a need for big stadiums in that cities.

For example :

1. Rapid Vienna
2. Austria Vienna
3. Red Bull Salzburg
4. Ferencvaros Budapest
5. Honved Budapest
6. Slavia Prague
7. Sparta Prague
8. Crvena zvezda Belgrade
9. Partizan Belgrade
10. Dinamo Zagreb
11. Hajduk Split
12. Steaua Bucurest
13. Dinamo Bucurest
14. CSKA Sofia
15. Levski Sofia
16. Slovan Bratislava
17. Vardar Skopje
18. Sarajevo

Last edited by Chrechan; July 16th, 2012 at 04:32 PM.
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Old July 17th, 2012, 10:09 PM   #12
anze
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OLIMPIJA LJUBLJANA too
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Old July 18th, 2012, 03:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrechan View Post
Pozinhossc and amq55 are not well understood what I wanted to say. My idea is that the small states with big cities should join together in a common league. Then will be a need for big stadiums in that cities.

For example :

1. Rapid Vienna
2. Austria Vienna
3. Red Bull Salzburg
4. Ferencvaros Budapest
5. Honved Budapest
6. Slavia Prague
7. Sparta Prague
8. Crvena zvezda Belgrade
9. Partizan Belgrade
10. Dinamo Zagreb
11. Hajduk Split
12. Steaua Bucurest
13. Dinamo Bucurest
14. CSKA Sofia
15. Levski Sofia
16. Slovan Bratislava
17. Vardar Skopje
18. Sarajevo
An idea like that has been proposed but UEFA opposed it and the idea went nowhere. It definitively makes a lot of sense but UEFA and FIFA are scared to death that if small countries do that then the big teams (Man U, Real Madrid, Barca, etc...) will split away and create a league of their own.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 01:46 PM   #14
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Uefa and Fifa protecting the interests of big clubs and big countries. It is clear that clubs from the major western countries don’t wont such a leagues because now they dominate and wish to remain so.
And what means if the biggest clubs Real, Manu, Barca, Milan, Bayern ... made ​​his own league ? Who loses ? Only smaller clubs from their big countries. Small states do not lose anything. It is only excuse which protects big clubs and big countries.
They do not want a give to smaller countries a chance to be competitive. Is there a sensible explanation?

Last edited by Chrechan; July 18th, 2012 at 01:54 PM.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #15
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interesting idea, Chrechan.
But i am not sure that thats because Croatian league is too bad. For example, in Russian (county where i live) there is also very low average attendance during the season. Spartak Moscow have about 10 million fans but in 2011/12 season average attendance was about 22K. Other teams had lower average attendance. Spartak stadium - Luzhniki have 78 360 seats. And the last season was really very interesting up to the end.

Also we have a good example with KHL - the hockey league. Sold out for most games and interesting play-off series.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 04:32 PM   #16
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Chrechan, I think you are pretty much right.
I would say UEFA:s main objective is not to protect the big leagues, but rather to preserve status quo as much as possible (since UEFA are in the driver's seat and have everything to lose from changes).
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Old July 18th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loranga View Post
Chrechan, I think you are pretty much right.
I would say UEFA:s main objective is not to protect the big leagues, but rather to preserve status quo as much as possible (since UEFA are in the driver's seat and have everything to lose from changes).
It is also true.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimpyJiii View Post
interesting idea, Chrechan.
But i am not sure that thats because Croatian league is too bad. For example, in Russian (county where i live) there is also very low average attendance during the season. Spartak Moscow have about 10 million fans but in 2011/12 season average attendance was about 22K. Other teams had lower average attendance. Spartak stadium - Luzhniki have 78 360 seats. And the last season was really very interesting up to the end.

Also we have a good example with KHL - the hockey league. Sold out for most games and interesting play-off series.
In season 2012/13 FC Dinamo Zagreb will be the champion in Croatia. The eighth consecutive time. Other clubs are far behind. Once a great club of Hajduk Split collected the poor team and can fight only for second place.
So, no one want to watch again this championship. Attendance will be bad.
And here hockey club Medvescak, who plays in the Austrian league, will have again more viewers than FC Dinamo Zagreb (not counting European matches).
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Old July 20th, 2012, 04:13 PM   #19
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Sadly this is a real issue and one that exists in many countries. Solutions? I can't really think of one. I don't think a regional league is the solution - for Steaua Bucharest for example it's much more interesting to play against Dinamo, Rapid, Timisoara and Craiova than playing against Partizan Belgrade, FC Sarajevo, Vardar Skopje, etc. EDIT: maybe that's because Romania is a bigger country and the idea would still work in countries with just two major clubs).

One small country with a vibrant league and support is Holland. What is the secret of the Dutch model and could it be implemented in Croatia, Serbia etc? If the supporter culture is the problem, then it's not good - supporter culture changes very slow. Even in Portugal the supporter culture hasn't changed for decades, almost everybody supports one of the three major clubs (actually I think it's mostly support for Benfica and Porto and a bit for Sporting and recently Braga).
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Old July 21st, 2012, 12:53 AM   #20
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See this classic Hajduk Split - Dinamo Zagreb from 1990. :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcH5IRi6iAI

or from 2009.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBSDLGGgtxM

but rarely is it.
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