Noel Whelan has revealed his excitement over Leeds United’s proposed expansion plans at Elland Road amid Phil Hay’s recent £250m claim.
During a Q&A for The Athletic, Hay revealed that the club are completely committed to redeveloping Elland Road and increasing the capacity there, even suggesting that those inside the club feel it could bump up the annual revenue over £250m.
And now, in response to that news, Whelan has revealed his excitement about Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s future.
He said: “This would be huge. The demand for tickets at Leeds means everything is sold out. Even for League Cup games, you’ve got 36,000 there and that just shows the strength of the fanbase and the excitement around the club at the moment.
“It’s a massive step forward, for revenue through tickets and sheer strength in numbers with the support. If they increased the capacity to 55,000, they would sell it out week-in, week-out – there’s no doubt about it.
“The other part of it is the possibility of holding World Cups and European Championships in this country – you want the stadium to be part of hosting these games. It’s another step forward and another progression for the club.”
With a current capacity of just over 37,000, Leeds have the 11th biggest stadium in the Premier League, behind the likes of Everton and Aston Villa – if their plans to make it a 55,000 seater come to fruition, then that would see them leapfrog a number of big clubs, including that of Liverpool and their home of Anfield.
While a larger stadium isn’t necessarily a guarantee of greater times or success – you only have to look at the likes of Arsenal and Spurs to see that in recent years – it is another major statement of ambition.
As Whelan says, a bigger home could lead to more opportunities both on the pitch and off it, especially in terms of a financial venture. Spurs for example have their agreement with the NFL and hosting games on their turf, pulling in some extra eyes and money from that deal.
If Leeds are to make that next step, then repurposing Elland Road to match their Premier League status and ambition is key, and it’s something that is sure to excite their loyal fans.