No need for League One United to leave the Lane

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SHEFFIELD United’s next opponents fancy a move.

Everton, Queens Park Rangers and to some extent Chelsea are eyeing one too.

So, in the spirit of the times, it’s worth considering whether Danny Wilson’s side should consider trading Bramall Lane for a sparkling new state-of-the-art stadium?

Not to mention, exactly what such a move would entail. Excluding, that is, a whole load of debate and bother.

Usually, when clubs decide to build shiny new homes, it’s because their current residences are either so dilapidated it’s cheaper to start again from scratch rather than undertake a makeover or because the facilities they house don’t generate enough dosh.

When Arsenal decided to swap Highbury for the Emirates in 1999, managing director Keith Edelman made no secret of the fact that money was the overriding motivation.

“Our aim is to be a leading European club and, once we get into the new stadium, we will be in that position,” he said. “It is very income-generous to us.

“When we move to Emirates Stadium we will have higher percentage of our income from gates. Very close to 50 per cent of our revenue will be gate income at Emirates Stadium, compared to around 30 per cent at Highbury.

“The revenue from executive boxes and Club Level alone will be almost equivalent to the [whole] income at Highbury. So we’ll be getting that and the revenue from 51,000 extra people.”

Of course, with United presently embroiled in a battle to claw themselves out of League One, the riches and opportunities top-flight membership affords must seem like a million miles away.

And, there’s no getting away from the fact that, when you’re entertaining the likes of MK Dons, Leyton Orient and Shrewsbury, less folk are going to want a piece of the action than if Manchester City, Liverpool and Sunderland were in town.

United’s average attendance this term is an impressive 18,136. But that’s still less than 60 per cent of ground capacity.

So, until they manage to rejoin English football’s elite, relocation is a complete non-starter anyway. Thank God too.

United and Bramall Lane, the world’s oldest professional football stadium, are inextricably linked.

They are, just like Sheffield Wednesday and Hillsborough, part of the city’s culture, history and fabric.

United supporters have visited some wonderful new arenas in recent times. The vast majority of which, unfortunately, have been plonked slap bang in the middle of some soulless retail park well away from the communities their tenants purport to represent.

Unless, of course, that’s Tesco, McDonald’s and Pizza Express.

Okay, so United’s ground might not boast acres of subsidised parking spaces, a natty new bus terminal, heated seats, a crèche and branch of Subway.

But it’s got an atmosphere. Proximity. Substance. Memories.

And suits United just fine.