Last May, I had an entry that considered performance pre and post a stadium move in English football in light of West Ham’s decision to play home matches at the Olympic Stadium. The transition has not gone well so far. Since the move West Ham have collected three points from nine and currently sit in the relegation zone after showing some poor away form too.
The chart (reproduced below) shows the finishing position in the English football league for eight clubs that have moved stadium since 2000. The graph plots the finishing position of each club five seasons prior to their move and five seasons after their move. Just considering top-tier clubs, the performance of Southampton and Manchester City declined after moving to a new stadium. Southampton were relegated in the five-year period after moving from The Dell. If my memory serves me right the cost of the Walker Stadium, along with the collapse of the ITV digital deal put Leicester city under enormous financial stress when they were moving from Filbert street.
West Ham is an interesting case as one would assume significant investment in new construction projects were not required to ensure the move. Their rental contract for the Olympic stadium is probably the only significant new cost. Again, something which one would expect not to influence transfer spend too much. But is there a 'settling in' effect as a team and its supporters acclimatise to their new environs, pitches size, etc.?
Moving to new stadiums for Premier League clubs seems to bring teething problems rather than honeymoons. It took Arsenal three games to win at the Emirates in 2006 (Arsenal 3–0 Sheffield United). Man City’s debut season in the City of Manchester stadium saw them finished 16th and they only won five home games all season in their new ground. Like Arsenal, their first home victory came at the third home game (Manchester City 4 – 1 Aston Villa). When Southampton moved to St.Mary’s for the 2001-2002 season they didn’t get a premier league win in their new stadium until the 24th of November. On their sixth attempt at their new ground they beat Charlton 1-0.