Johan Cruyff Arena to expand capacity

The Johan Cruyff Arena, home to Dutch soccer giants Ajax, is set to increase its seating capacity to 56,120 as part of a wider renovation project being undertaken by the Amsterdam local government.

In the first stage of the project, the ground will see 880 extra seats to be added in the corners of the venue, in preparation for the 2020 UEFA European Championship national team soccer tournament (Euro 2020). Amsterdam has been selected as one of the host cities, with the Johan Cruyff Arena set to host three group games and one round of 16 game. For the first time in the competition’s 60-year history, it will be held across the European continent with 12 host cities in total.

According to sports venue news outlet Coliseum, the larger renovation project will ultimately add 1,130 seats to the 54,990-capacity venue, with 60 of those coming in the VIP Lounge and additional wheelchair accommodation added to comply with UEFA regulations. In what will be the largest redevelopment of the venue since it opened in 1996, the overall shape of the arena will switch from concave to convex.

Ajax does not own the Johan Cruyff Arena, but the club’s Managing Director, Edwin van der Sar, said they are interested in increasing their involvement in the running of the venue.

“We are currently in consultation with the municipality,” Van der Sar explained to Ajax Life.

“Agreements have been made in the context of naming. We are looking into whether we can increase our interest by acquiring certificates from the municipality.

“We play in a beautiful stadium, with beautiful red seats, where the name Ajax is prominent. And the grass – most important to us – also makes steps. I’m not saying we don’t want this. If there are opportunities that give Ajax a higher budget to move on to a higher plan in Europe, we will be keen on that.”

Ajax currently sit top of the Dutch top flight Eredivisie, three points ahead of second placed AZ Alkmaar after 20 rounds played.

Portugal are the defending champions of the Euros, when they secured a 1-0 win after extra time against France in 2016.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program a key investment in Western Australia

Western Australia events are receiving significant support through the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24.

The WA State Government has invested over $630,000 to a host of sporting bodies across a vast number of codes.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • build capacity and capability of the sport and recreation workforce and volunteers to plan, secure and/or deliver quality sport and active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for talented WA athletes, coaches and officials to participate at a national and/or international level in their home environment
  • provide opportunities for the public to participate in sport and/or active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for regional Western Australians to experience and conduct major sporting events and sport development initiatives in a regional location.

The program comprises three categories:

  • event projects (up to $15,000)
  • event hosting (up to $50,000)
  • the Country Sport Enrichment Scheme (up to $30,000).

In Round 1 of the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24, one of the successful applicants was Football West, who ran 2024 Goldfields Regional Festival of Football – a seven-day community engagement event that improved football capacity in the wider Goldfields area. After receiving $24,200, Football West’s main goal is to increase participation in the region.

There is still time to apply for the next round of funding, which closes 5:00pm on February 26, 2024.

For full information and eligibility to apply, you can find it here.

WSL eyeing enormous 150% increase to broadcast rights deal

In a historic first for football in the UK, every single Women’s Super League match is set to be broadcasted live from next season across multiple channels.

The WSL tender document issued to broadcasters this month features all 132 league games, with 56 to be sold exclusively and the remaining 76 available on a non-exclusive basis.

Under the terms of the existing deal that expires at the end of the current season, Sky broadcast 35 matches-a-season and the BBC 22, with the rest streamed for free on the FA’s website.

The tender document is asking for a huge £20 million ($38.48 million) a year TV deal and this 150% increase to the value of its broadcasting deal is far from surprising following the explosion of the women’s game. This figure is set to be confirmed as soon as they can find the right suitors.

In an attempt to gain an increase from the existing £7.75 million ($14.91 million) a year deal, the WSL have responded by making every match available for broadcast, which the league hoped would attract bids from beyond current rights holders Sky Sports and the BBC, It looks to be working.

Sky Sports and the BBC are set to bid again on the rights and extend the current partnership whilst it is said that this potential deal is also attracting networks like TNT Sports and DAZN.

The Premier League and EFL have stood firm on the UEFA blackout that suggests all 3pm Saturday matches are not shown on TV, to encourage locals to attend matches in person. This means the WSL will have to work around it and it is likely that Saturday lunchtime and Sunday afternoons remain as the most common kick-off times.

There is little the WSL are having to do to persuade broadcasters into putting their hands up for these rights, which is a testament to the sport’s current growth and upward trajectory it is trending towards.

FA Director of Women’s football, Kelly Simmons, explained how important it was to secure this monumental broadcast deal.

“While we’ve been developing this it’s been so hard to sit on it because it’s so exciting for the women’s game. It is transformational,” Simmons said in an interview with Guardian Sport.

“When I first came into this role, we said that we really thought women’s football could really break into the mainstream and this is mainstream, this is prime slots on television, big audiences, week in week out.”

This deal in particular launches women’s football into the mainstream and helps improve the quality of the product which goes a long way to opening the eyes of a huge audience to its impact as a sport and socially.

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