Relocation of Professional Sports Teams - Team Relocation in Europe - United Kingdom - Football


  • Airdrie United F.C. took over Clydebank F.C. and played their games at Airdrie following the earlier liquidation of Airdrieonians F.C., though the club was founded as a continuation of Airdrieonians and did not take over Clydebank until after their application for the old Airdrie club's league place was refused. As a result, Airdrie United were placed in Division Two for the 2002–03 season, taking the place that would have been occupied by Clydebank. A year later, the Clydebank fans founded a new club, bearing the same name.
  • In Northern Ireland, Belfast based Distillery FC were homeless for many seasons in the 1970s sharing grounds with other clubs until settling in Lisburn, later adding the town's name to theirs, now known as Lisburn Distillery F.C.

Several examples of relocation in the UK focus on the phenomenon of New Towns, built to cope with the shortage of housing following the Second World War. Many of these towns had large populations, but lacked professional football teams due to their age. Also, some clubs that did not move changed their names to reflect the creation of nearby new towns.

  • Wimbledon F.C.: Norwegian owners moved the club from South London to Milton Keynes, a town more than 60 miles (100 km) away and one of the few large towns (due to its status as a new town founded in 1967) without a league football team. For doing so, they were widely criticised by the English footballing community, with many derisively referring to the club as "Franchise F.C." (as this move was seen as echoing North American norms). London fans created a new local team, AFC Wimbledon; Wimbledon F.C. went into administration, was bought out of administration and subsequently relaunched with a new name, Milton Keynes Dons F.C. Twelve years before the move to Milton Keynes, they had already left their London borough of Merton home for Selhurst Park in (the London borough of) Croydon. Although this was a supposedly temporary move, it had lasted 12 years by the time of their migration.
  • Meadowbank Thistle, a struggling Edinburgh club controversially relocated in 1995 to the new town of Livingston, 19 miles away. It changed its name to Livingston F.C., its fortunes improved and it won the Scottish League Cup in 2004.
  • Clyde F.C. moved from Shawfield Stadium (near Rutherglen in the south east of Glasgow) to the new town of Cumbernauld in 1994. They had been evicted from Shawfield in 1986. By 1990, Clyde secured an agreement to build a home of their own in the new town of Cumbernauld, which had grown in population and was by 1990 one of the larger settlements in Scotland without senior football. They were homeless from 1986 until Broadwood Stadium was built in Cumbernauld in 1994. The move allowed Clyde to continue as a semi-professional club.
  • Wellington Town never relocated, but changed its name in 1969 to Telford United, after the new town of Telford (formed in 1963) was expanded to include the club's home of Wellington. The club went into administration and was dissolved in 2004, but was re-founded the same year as A.F.C. Telford United.
  • Gravesend & Northfleet, formed by a 1946 merger of Gravesend United and Northfleet United, changed its name in 2007 to Ebbsfleet United after the nearby new town of Ebbsfleet Valley in Kent. The club, however, has never moved—the merged club chose to play at Northfleet United's ground, which is not within the new town, and has remained there to this day.

Other examples of relocation out of the original district are slightly more common. In certain cases, the club has moved within a conurbation:

  • Arsenal moved from Woolwich in south London to Highbury in north London in 1913. They moved again to Holloway, a neighbourhood adjacent to Highbury, in 2006, though this was a much shorter distance than they had moved when relocating 93 years earlier, and kept the club in the London Borough of Islington.
  • Manchester United were founded (as Newton Heath) in the Manchester neighbourhood of Newton Heath in 1878, and moved within the city to Clayton in 1893. After adopting the Manchester United name in 1902, they moved just outside the city to Stretford in 1910, where they remain to this day. However, the creation of the Greater Manchester metropolitan county in 1974 and Manchester being its post town mean that Stretford is now considered part of Manchester.
  • Grimsby Town play in the town of Cleethorpes, a town to the east of Grimsby that has been absorbed by the former's outward growth during the 20th century.
  • Partick Thistle is a Scottish football club that moved from the Glasgow district of Partick to that of Maryhill but retains its name.
  • Nottingham Forest have long played outside of the Forest district of Nottingham and now reside in West Bridgford, just outside Nottingham's city limits, although they retain a Nottingham postal address. Interestingly, Notts County's Meadow Lane ground is within the city boundary despite their county name.
  • Bolton Wanderers play at the Reebok Stadium, which is situated in the neighbouring town of Horwich, since their relocation from 101-year-old Burnden Park in 1997.
  • In 1974, South Shields F.C. became Gateshead United F.C. after a move between the two towns that are 10 miles apart — repeating a similar migration in 1930. (This club folded in 1973. The present Gateshead F.C. and South Shields F.C. are new clubs.)
  • West Ham United have been located in what is now the London Borough of Newham since their creation as Thames Ironworks F.C. in 1895, but played in several different neighbourhoods within that area in their early history. Their first home was Hermit Road in Canning Town, followed by Browning Road in East Ham, before returning to Canning Town at the Memorial Grounds. After severing ties with the Thames Ironworks company and reforming as West Ham United in 1900, they initially played at the Memorial Grounds, but became a transient team in 1901, playing at several local clubs' grounds in another nearby neighbourhood, Upton Park. In 1904, they built the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, where they have remained to this day. West Ham are currently bidding to take over the Olympic Stadium, located in the Newham neighbourhood of Stratford, after the 2012 Summer Olympics. (They had initially been granted tenancy, but that decision was overturned and bidding was reopened.)

Read more about this topic:  Relocation Of Professional Sports Teams, Team Relocation in Europe, United Kingdom

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