Coopers Stadium upgrades progressing smoothly

Adelaide United’s Coopers Stadium upgrades are running as planned as it receives back-of-house improvements to prepare for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Back in August 2021, the club announced that the stadium would receive a massive $53 million upgrade in conjunction with Adelaide Venue Management and the South Australia Government.

The upgrade was announced to significantly improve training and playing environments, as well as upgrades inside the stadium to many different facilities. An increase in stadium capacity was not involved in the plans.

Adelaide United CEO Nathan Kosmina spoke to Box2Box to give a further insight into the stadium upgrades.

“The renovations are ongoing at the moment, the bulk upgrades are happening as we speak and we expect most to be complete post A-League season. However some renovations won’t be complete until after the Women’s World Cup,” he said.

Coopers Stadium (formally Hindmarsh) has been the heart and soul of soccer in South Australia since the 1960’s, and although it doesn’t resemble what it was back then, Kosmina reflected on a traditional home for football in the state.

“It’s been the home of SA football since the 60’s, it doesn’t resemble now what it was back then but its still the same block of land that it always has been so its got a lot of history and culture,” he said.

The stadium has been home to many different sporting events and organisations for over 60 years, and has hosted NSL finals, Socceroos matches, Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Coopers was also used for the 2000 Olympics where it recorded it’s largest ever attendance of 18,340, when Italy drew 1-1 with Nigeria in a group stage match.

One of the main concerns for the stadium was making sure the atmosphere inside the venue remained as intimate as possible post-renovation, to ensure the best possible fan experience for all that will attend.

“We were heavily involved in the planning and what Coopers will look like in the future and our priority is to keep that intimate atmosphere,” Kosmina stated.

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“One of the challenges is that part of the stadium is bordered by roads, almost underneath the stands and even near a church. So in terms of increasing the size of the stadium, that was never on the radar.

“What we will see in the next 12 months is a lot of back-of-house upgrades, and the change rooms have been done which has really been first priority considering we have a lot of A-League Women’s games here.

Whilst some renovations won’t be complete until after the Women’s World Cup in 2023, what will be ready is a wide variety of new stadium features that Kosmina is hoping will have a positive impact on fan and media experience.

He stated that the stand on the eastern side of Coopers will be getting one of the biggest upgrades, which includes new audio, new LED, new big TV screens, new media facilities and new food and beverage facilities.

When it comes to something such as unveiling the upgrades to the public, it won’t be too noticeable or impressive to the eye, however the process of the redevelopment is mainly designed to thoroughly improve fan experience for upcoming international events.

“This is an upgrade that has been 20 years in the making, the stadium hasn’t bee improved since the 2000 Olympics,” Kosmina said.

“After the renovations are complete, I’m sure Coopers Stadium will still be a lot of peoples favourite stadium to attend in the country for A-Leagues, the only difference is that its just being brought into the 21st century.

“Next year we should have what feels like a new venue to play at.”

You can listen to more of what Nathan Kosmina had to say on the most recent Box2Box podcast episode here.

Premier League continues talks on cost control and EFL funding

Premier League club bosses are holding further talks regarding cost control measures for clubs competing in European football and additional funding for the EFL.

The top flight is examining the introduction of a model along similar lines to UEFA’s squad cost ratio, which by 2025-26 will cap the spending of clubs involved in European competitions on wages, transfer fees and agent costs at 70 per cent of revenue.

It is understood that clubs in the Premier League not competing in European competitions will be allowed more leeway on spending, with a ratio of around 85 per cent of revenue having been discussed. This is potentially to ensure a more level playing field for mid table Premier League clubs who are struggling to break that barrier.

There is a major roadblock, however, in these talks with relegated Premier League clubs still earning parachute payments in their first season back in the Championship and being able to continue working to the 85 per cent ratio whilst the bottom half Championship clubs are working on a much tighter budget, closer to the 70 per cent UEFA mark.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters spoke about these talks advancing and what it means for the future of both leagues.

“We have some proposals out for consultation with our clubs about moving and aligning more with the UEFA system,” Masters said at the Culture, Media and Sport committee.

“Some of the issues that are still at debate between the EFL and the Premier League and internally within the Premier League itself are about trying to find a resolution on exactly how the financial regulatory system will work in the future.

“There’s an area of disagreement between us on how cost controls are going to work. Because obviously if you’re going to put more money into a system, that system has to be properly regulated. That system has yet to be fully agreed on how Championship clubs, how relegated clubs and how Premier League clubs operate a common system.” he concluded.

In terms of the extra funding agreement being discussed, EFL Chairman Rick Parry announced that his competition was prepared to accept an amount that would equate to 14.75 per cent of the two competitions’ net media revenues, which he said worked out at an extra £125million ($240 million) a year.

Whilst this is a huge positive for the footballing ladder in England, there is still a debate amongst clubs and representatives over how the extra funding to the EFL should be paid out.

Recently relegated sides are already working on a bigger budget, whilst sides in the bottom half are struggling to pay player wages with this disparity being completely unacceptable.

So it definitely begs the question, does majority of the extra £125million ($240 million) a year go towards helping bottom clubs compete in the long term? or would that be a stain on the league’s integrity and fair play values?

Votes were not casted in last week’s meetings regarding cost control measures or extra funding, but reports suggest that a conclusion is being made swiftly with both parties eager to agree on a fair deal.

MLS NEXT Pro continues to expand with Connecticut United addition

Connecticut United FC joins MLS Next Pro

Connecticut (CT) United FC will join the ever-growing MLS NEXT Pro League in 2025, in a move that promises to reinvigorate the US state through investment in football infrastructure.

CT United becomes the fifth independent team to join US football’s third-tier national competition, which serves as a valuable development tool for young players at the 27 existing Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs.

It joins teams from Jacksonville, Florida and Chattanooga – who were recently announced by the MLS NEXT organisation.

Chattanooga FC have been competing at state-level for 15 years, allowing it to join the competition in 2024 alongside fellow independent club, Carolina Core FC.

Jacksonville Armada are expected to enter alongside CT United and a team from Cleveland, Ohio, in 2025.

The nucleus of CT United’s football operation will be based in Connecticut’s capital city, Bridgeport, after its Planning and Zoning Commission approved a project for a waterfront football-specific stadium.

The stadia will be a part of a larger infrastructure plan to create a mixed-use destination for retail, residential, and community zones. Bridgeport’s Mayor, Joseph Ganim, says the city is ready to drive the project.

“Bridgeport is in the midst of a renaissance, rebranding from an industrial city to now the capital of arts and entertainment of Connecticut,” he said via media release.

“I am proud to announce that MLS NEXT Pro will join that landscape in providing entertainment opportunities for Bridgeport residents and the region at large.”

The club’s formation represents the first foray into sports ownership for the Connecticut Sports Group (CTSG), an organisation founded and led by Connecticut local and technology entrepreneur, André Swanston.

Though in its infant stages, the organisation relies primarily upon its partnership with the University of Connecticut, and minor investors within the state.

Swanston, 42, becomes not just one of the youngest principal owners of a football club in the country, but also making a difference as one of the few Black sports owners in US sport overall.

“As CT United FC embarks on its MLS NEXT Pro journey, I want to extend deep gratitude to the incredible fans, community leaders and government officials who have embraced our vision – I am confident that, united, Connecticut can compete against anyone,” he proclaimed via press release.

“We are committed to building the infrastructure – from a free youth academy to a state-of-the-art stadium – needed to propel Connecticut to the highest levels of soccer.”

The formation of CT United represents an exciting prospect for the people of Connecticut, who will be eager to see CTSG deliver on its vision to ‘create unforgettable experiences that inspire communities.’

It also showcases Major League Soccer’s continuing expansion, and intent to re-invigorate communities across North America.

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