Does being near a football ground boost the price of your home?
I once knew a couple who hoped that Charlton would not return from their Selhurst Park exile to The Valley as they thought it would depress their house price and make it more difficult to sell, quite apart from the hassle caused by the hordes of rampaging Addicks on match days (they had moved there after the club left),
They were reflecting a commonly held perception that being near a football ground adversely affects house prices and sales. But now some research by Halifax suggests an opposite conclusion.
As with much 'research' of this kind, a health warning is necessary. It focuses on two variables, football ground locations and house prices, when other factors might be much important in driving prices. In other words, there is a risk of a spurious correlation.
For example, homes near Premier League clubs cost nearly 11 times average earnings in those areas, while the average in England and Wales is just under seven times salary. But to make sense of these figures one would have to control for the nature of the housing stock and the level of prosperity in the area concerned. For example, it is no surprise that the houses one finds near Fulham's riverside ground cost a lot of money while those around Anfield cost a lot less.
Nevertheless, it is interesting that houses close to the grounds of Premier League grounds have more than doubled in value over the past decade, climbing from an average £152,891 in 2002 to £362,866 last year.
However, as is always the case with averages, they can mask a lot of variation and countervailing trends. Properties in the same postal district as the Etihad Stadium have seen the highest inflation, with prices increasing 271 per cent from £21,328 to £79,098. But then the baseline was very low and the causal factor here was surely regeneration rather than Manchester City's success on the pitch.
Homes near Aston Villa's ground in Birmingham, another area that has has its share of challenges, have increased by 126 per cent since 2002, to £97,870, still a relatively low price. The typical price of a house 'in the shadows' (surely not literally?) of Sunderland's Stadium of Light increased by 125 per cent over the same period to £92,345.
However, homeowners living close to QPR, West Ham, Norwich City, Reading and Southampton's grounds experienced below-average house price growth, while those near to Newcastle United's Sports Direct Areana at St. James's Park suffered price falls of 7 per cent to £127,715. But that may just have reflected a downturn in the regional economy.
Perhaps the one conclusion to be drawn from this research is that living near a football ground need not necessarily depress the value of your home. And providing you keep up with matchdays and any parking restrictions or diversions, it shouldn't affect your everyday life that much.
Relatively few fans, even the keenest ones, choose to live near their club's stadium. Indeed, it might be more interesting to live near the training ground, if you can see in. But a friend of mine learnt quite a lot from just living at the end of the road leading to Charlton's Sparrows Lane training ground.
What is perhaps a bit more paradoxical is keen fans of other clubs who live near another club's ground like the Chelsea fan who used to live near Charlton, but perhaps he enjoyed dishing out abuse.