Football grounds - a new property hotspot?

Football grounds - a new property hotspot? (London 2012)

With the World Cup getting underway today (June 14th), football is likely to be occupying the attention of a lot of people just now, with even the busiest property investor likely to be taking time out to watch some games on the TV. 

However, while the action in the Russian venues will be all about the quest to be international football's top dogs, back in the UK the development of stadiums may provide an interest for investors that has rather more to do with the day job. 

As an article in Homes and Property notes, a range of projects across London have helped not just develop new football grounds, but also aid the capital's housing crisis. 

Written not so much to coincide with the start of the World Cup as the start of sales for new apartments at AFC Wimbledon's new ground on Plough Lane, the article also noted that Homes & Property's own research has shown 3,600 homes are being provided as part of five new football stadium developments across the capital. 

Apart from Wimbledon, there are the new apartments at Tottenham's redeveloped White Hart Lane, while the moves being undertaken in recent years by Arsenal and West Ham United - and now by Brentford - are adding more homes, with the old stadiums providing space for additional housing. 

Brentford's development will be part of the wider transformation of a ten-acre site near Kew, with the new stadium being built alongside 910 new homes. The club's existing Griffin Park stadium will make way for 180 properties. A unique feature of the old ground is the presence of a pub adjacent to all for corners, something thirsty residents of the new homes may hope remains the case.

West Ham United's recent move to the Olympic Stadium has proved controversial, not least because the oval shape and running track have deprived the team and fans of the intimate atmosphere of the old Boleyn Ground. But the latter will soon be home sweet home for 842 households. 

The question is whether this process will carry on, in London and elsewhere. JLL analyst Nick Whitten said: "The need for new homes in the UK will continue to influence stadium developments. Although the majority of clubs that needed to expand have already done so, there are still some who are planning to build modern fit-for-purpose stadiums, such as Chelsea."

Menton of Chelsea, however, highlights a key issue that could see investment in London property being curbed. The England football team may be in Russia right now, but Russian involvement in English football and property may be on the way out, following the British government's refusal of a new investor visa to Roman Abramovic. His response has been to put the £1 billion redevelopment of Stamford Bridge on hold. It may be the departure of Mr Abramovic is the beginning of an exodus of Russian money from London, not least in the current tense diplomatic climate. 

There is plenty of other overseas money coming into both football and residential property, however - much of it outside London. For example, the Abu Dhabi United corporation that has been bankrolling Manchester City also has investments in new housing projects in nearby parts of the city. Everton's Iranian part-owner Farhad Moshiri is involved in a project to develop a new stadium in Liverpool's northern docklands. 

Perhaps the most compelling example of all is at Sheffield United's Bramhall Lane, where a new stand will include the development of a block that will contain both the club's megastore and new apartments, enabling fans to literally call their favourite club's stadium "home".