Stadiums and housing fit together
Many years ago when Charlton were in exile in Crystal Palace and The Valley was a forlorn tip which fans were starting to clear up, I was talking to someone who lived near the ground. They said that they hoped the Addicks would not come back as it would depress the value of their house and make it more difficult to sell.
In the iconic novel and later film Fever Pitch the central character is pilloried by his girl friend for wanting to buy a flat near the old Highbury Stadium. He seemed to have had some vision of Arsenal fans emerging from all the nearby houses on match days wearing cloth caps and walking to the ground.
Nevertheless, increasingly football clubs and property developers are getting together in schemes for new stadiums, although it can still be a risky activity. However, such is the boom in London property that purchasers may overlook the inconvenience of having match days nearby. Indeed, for some it is a plus as the purchase has a sentimental appeal.
Brentford are awaiting approval for a new 20,000-seater stadium in West London, in part funded by 910 new homes. Brentford lost £5m last year, but it is funding its £71m project through owner Matthew Benham and developer finance.
QPR's plan for a 40,000-seater stadium envisages no less than 24,000 new homes as part of a redevelopment project at Old Oak Common. Last week we featured West Ham's plans to convert the Boleyn Ground into 700 new homes.
All these clubs have tried to learn from the experience of Arsenal which had a roller coaster ride with the redevelopment of the iconic Higbury stadium and building new flats near the Emirates. Some think that problems with selling the properties affected the availability of money to spend on players, hence in part explaining the recent lack of trophies.
Unfortunately, the property market collapsed at just the time that the scheme was being launched and this led to cash flow problems. It is now steaming ahead, but whether this another housing 'bubble' is a matter of dispute. The high end London market is driven by 'trophy' homes that are rarely used by their owners.
What always puzzles me is the fan a club who locates himself near another team's stadium. There used to be a Chelsea fan who lived near Charlton who used to come out of his house like a jack in a box to berate fans going to the match which is a bit puzzling as they are hardly rivals
Self-proclaimed No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson was sent to a rented flat near Highbury when he was working in London, his employers having told the agents that he was a football fan, but not explaining it was another London club that played in red.
If I won a lot of money, I might buy an apartment in London as I am there so often and enjoy the city. But I don't think I would buy near The Valley. This is not because 'it is such a poor area' as I heard two Arsenal fans say after their team had lost there I just like to put some distance between myself and the ground after the latest home defeat!