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23 July 2014

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Premier Football Hospitality

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There’s only one way to entertain football fanatics. Karen Doyle runs through the Premier League hospitality packages with team commentary from Sunday Times senior sports writer Andrew Longmore.


Our love affair with the beautiful game will never cease, and with Premiership clubs upgrading their facilities to tap in to the hospitality market, there are endless opportunities to impress and entertain football-mad clients in a top-class suite. Though stadia differ wildly in the standard of the facilities they offer, the majority of executive packages include a 10- or 12-seater box with pitch-view seating, a Champagne reception, a three- or four-course meal with wine and beer, half- and full-time refreshments and a matchday programme. Other less expensive options may also be available, consisting of pre- and post-match refreshments in a lounge or bar, and premier seats from which to watch the match.


Tried & Tested
Matchday Hospitality Chelsea FC

I’ll declare it now. My attitude to the beautiful game could best be described as ambivalent, so the gauntlet was laid down for an afternoon at Chelsea FC. Given that haute cuisine and football don’t exactly go hand in hand, however, our experiences at Stamford Bridge came as a very pleasant surprise.

As part of the Executive Package hospitality, ex-player Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris took us on a guided tour, including a walk-out from the players’ tunnel on to the hallowed turf for photos, after which we were welcomed into the top-floor restaurant for lunch. Service throughout the meal was smiling but suitably efficient. No time to linger over a digestif here – we had to make 3pm kick-off.

The simple modern restaurant is closely packed (booth tables are the best), but everything we ate and drank was fresh and well-executed, particularly the main courses: a chunky tranche of roasted cod on braised fennel, topped with vine tomatoes, and perfectly cooked beef fillet with dauphinoise. Given that pudding was a slight rush, it was interesting to note that many guests opted to take dessert or cheese at half time – a good idea, particularly if you’re pre-occupied with placing match bets after mains.

The atmosphere inside the ground promises to win over even the most sport averse. Hospitality seating is, of course, some of the best in the house – directly opposite Roman Abramovich’s box on the half way line – but the East stand is on the sunny side of the pitch so we wished we’d brought hats. Comfortable seats were promised, and we had no complaints, especially as our position at the end of a row made for an easy exit (just before the final whistle to avoid the rush). The complimentary bar remains open for an hour or so after the match but if you time it right, you might be able to catch the players on their way out – the hospitality entrance is right next to the doors to the dressing rooms.


ARSENAL
Nickname: The Gunners
Ground: Emirates Stadium Capacity: 60,432
Address: Avenell Road, Highbury, London N5
Tel: 0845 262 0001
Team Talk: ‘Old values, new stadium, stylish football’
Packages: From £3,750 + VAT for 15 guests

ASTON VILLA
Nickname: The Villains
Ground: Villa Park Capacity: 42,593
Address: Birmingham B6
Tel: 0870 950 9260
Team Talk: ‘Sleeping giant with bright new
manager and mega-dollars’
Packages: From £90pp + VAT

BIRMINGHAM CITY
Nickname: The Blues
Ground: St Andrews Stadium Capacity: 30,009
Address: Birmingham B9
Tel: 0844 557 1875
Team Talk: ‘Upbeat club, just as long as they beat
The Villains’
Packages: From £65pp + VAT

BLACKBURN ROVERS
Nickname: Rovers
Ground: Ewood Park Capacity: 31,367
Address: Blackburn, Lancashire BB2
Tel: 01254 690909
Team Talk: ‘Proper northern club, long history,
bruising team’
Packages: From £69pp inc VAT

BOLTON WANDERERS
Nickname: The Trotters
Ground: Reebok Stadium Capacity: 27,879
Address: Burnden Way, Bolton BL6
Tel: 01204 673761
Team Talk: ‘As per Blackburn, with more bruises’
Packages: From £130pp + VAT

CHELSEA
Nickname: The Blues
Ground: Stamford Bridge Capacity: 42,055
Address: Fulham Road, London SW6
Tel: 0870 300 1212 
Team Talk: ‘A new five-year plan at the Bridge?’
Packages: From £195pp + VAT

DERBY COUNTY
Nickname: The Rams
Ground: Pride Park Stadium Capacity: 33,597
Address: Derby DE24
Tel: 0870 444 1884
Team Talk: ‘New boys, but not for long’
Packages: From £140pp + VAT

EVERTON
Nickname: The Toffees
Ground: Goodison Park Capacity: 40,170
Address: Liverpool L4
Tel: 0870 442 1878
Team Talk: ‘Well managed, but eternally in the shadow of the Reds’
Packages: From £115pp + VAT

FULHAM
Nickname: The Cottagers
Ground: Craven Cottage Capacity: 24,600
Address: Stevenage Road, London SW6
Tel: 020 8336 7555
Team Talk: ‘Ancient riverside ground, every Londoner’s second club’
Packages: From £75pp + VAT

LIVERPOOL
Nickname: The Reds
Ground: Anfield Capacity: 45,362
Address: Anfield Road, Liverpool L4
Tel: 0151 263 9199
Team Talk: ‘Great history, time for a
Premiership title now’
Packages: From £65pp inc VAT  >>

MANCHESTER CITY
Nickname: The Citizens
Ground: City of Manchester Stadium
Capacity: 47,726
Address: SportCity, Manchester M11
Tel: 0870 062 4141
Team Talk: ‘Sven’s new dawn or same old City?’
Packages: From £90pp + VAT

MANCHESTER UNITED
Nickname: Red Devils
Ground: Old Trafford Capacity: 76,312
Address: Sir Matt Busby Way,
Manchester M16
Tel: 0870 442 1994
Team Talk: ‘The big red team on the other side of town’
Packages: From £105pp + VAT

MIDDLESBROUGH
Nickname: Boro
Ground: Riverside Stadium Capacity: 35,100
Address: Middlesbrough TS3
Tel: 01642 757656
Team Talk: ‘Young manager, young talent, colourless team’
Packages: From £105pp inc VAT

NEWCASTLE UNITED 
Nickname: The Magpies
Ground: St James’ Park Capacity: 52,387
Address: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE1
Tel: 0191 201 8419
Team Talk: ‘Eternally under-achieving players, eternally optimistic fans’
Packages: From £170pp + VAT

PORTSMOUTH
Nickname: Pompey
Ground: Fratton Park Capacity: 20,224
Address: Frogmore Road, Portsmouth PO4
Tel: 023 9277 8555
Team Talk: ‘Retro ground, progressive team,
Wagon Wheels for tea’
Packages: From £105pp + VAT

READING
Nickname: The Royals
Ground: Madejski Stadium Capacity: 24,161
Address: Reading RG2
Tel: 0118 968 1303
Team Talk: ‘Neat club, nice people, every
League needs one’
Packages: From £125pp + VAT

SUNDERLAND
Nickname: Black Cats
Ground: Stadium of Light Capacity: 49,000
Address: Sunderland SR5
Tel: 0191 551 5000
Team Talk: ‘Big club back in the big time under quite big Roy’
Packages: From £45pp inc VAT

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Nickname: Spurs
Ground: White Hart Lane Capacity: 36,240
Address: Bill Nicholson Way, 748 High Street, Tottenham, London N17 
Tel: 020 8365 5010
Team Talk: ‘Big club not quite as big as they think’
Packages: From £210pp + VAT

WEST HAM UNITED
Nickname: The Hammers
Ground: Boleyn Ground (Upton Park)
Capacity: 35,146
Address: Green Street, Upton Park, London E13
Tel: 020 8548 2777
Team Talk: ‘Things can only get better’
Packages: From £240pp + VAT

WIGAN ATHLETIC
Nickname: The Latics
Ground: JJB Stadium Capacity: 25,138
Address: Robin Park Complex, Wigan WN5
Tel: 01942 774000
Team Talk: ‘Only one sport in town and it’s
not football’
Packages: From £60pp inc VAT


This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2007.


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