This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Leeds United are making plans away from the pitch, in a move to match the progress that manager Marcelo Bielsa seems to be making on it, with managing director Angus Kinnear announcing plans to extend Elland Road to become a 50,000 seater stadium, as reported on Leeds Live.
Kinnear used a civic reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds to celebrate the club’s 100th birthday to confirm: “In our centenary year we’re very proud to announce a partnership with the council on two initiatives,
“They fall under the title of Vision Elland Road. You notice that is a far cry from the Beeston we see today,
“Part of it is around the stadium and taking our stadium up to 50,000 and turning it into a true ground which can compete with other stadiums in the Premier League and in Europe.”
What do you make of Kinnear’s plans for Elland Road? Was it inevitable that Elland Road would see an increase in capacity?
“If they go up it makes total sense.
“Everyone knows that Leeds have great support. It’s a massive city and if Premier League football is on offer then they should easily be able to fill a 50,000 stadium.
“It’s good news for the supporters as it shows the current regime have real ambition to help the club grow and making Elland Road one of the biggest grounds in the country would back that up.
“Of course, it’s all dependent on the one condition that they do actually win promotion and they would then need to establish themselves in the top-flight. So, it’s good to hear but it’s a long way away yet and it’s not about going up this season.”
“Well, yes but there’s no point even thinking about this extension unless Leeds United are in the Premier League and that should be the aim.
“Before Marcelo Bielsa came in, there were a number of times the stadium was half empty in the Championship and they need to guarantee that they aren’t playing in the second division.
“Obviously, Leeds are a huge club and 50,000 would create a formidable atmosphere and one that would rival some of the very best in world football, Kinnear’s ambition should not be questioned but some would say that they might be getting a bit ahead of themselves.
“There’s no way that the Whites would be able to fill 50,000 seats in the Championship, so once they’re a stable Premier League club, that would be the right time to go for it. Reading said something similar when they last went up to the top flight, but were relegated in the same season, so that stability is vital for any future stadium plans.”
So should Leeds be looking to increase capacity at Elland Road to 50,000?
“This is something which should certainly happen if Leeds establish themselves in the Premier League, but it should be at the back of the club’s thinking for now.
“I’m sure Leeds fans would prefer the club to spend money on the squad before it puts money aside for the stadium, as having a squad ready for promotion must be the priority at the moment following last season’s near-miss.
“Leeds definitely have a support base wide enough to fill out 50k, but it is vital they have first survived for a number of years in the Premier League. The club should not risk the possibility of ruining the atmosphere with empty seats, as this could happen if the club gets relegated.
“This move could make Elland Road an even more intimidating ground to visit, but the club must ensure the timing is right for the supporter increase.”