The Premier League is widely regarded as the best in the world, and it’s an opinion that’s hard to argue with.
With the ridiculous amounts of money floating about in the English top-flight, all clubs have been able to spend big. As a result, some of the best players on the planet, and the best managers, have moved to compete in the league and the quality is generally impressive.
The dominance of Premier League clubs is reflected by the fact they have two clubs in the Champions League semi-finals and two in the last four of the Europa League. A look at the football betting from Space Casino shows that Manchester City are 5/4 favourites to win the big prize. Meanwhile, Manchester United are 1/1 to secure the Europa League. So, the English are expected to rule on the continent this season.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 14, 2021
Despite the positives, there is one major complaint with the Premier League; the atmosphere is desperately lacking at many grounds – and it has been for some time.
A rise in ticket prices and new stadiums have generally taken the game away from the working class. The scenes you see on the terraces in Poland, Argentina and Germany among many other countries, are not replicated in England. It’s a particular issue at the top clubs, where supporters flock from across the globe to watch the star players.
The Black Country a Rare Shining Light
That’s not to say all grounds lack atmosphere though, with Wolverhampton Wanderers one of a few notable exceptions.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side play at Molineux, a ground that is steeped in history. It was originally built in 1889 and it has seen a lot in that time. Fans have packed the stands to watch memorable European games under floodlights, whilst it has also been almost empty as the club faced liquidation in the fourth division.
Upgrades to the ground in the 90s, in line with most grounds in England, followed but not much has happened since then, except for a new Stan Cullis stand which came in 2012. However, the redevelopment stopped there, meaning most of Molineux hasn’t been improved in around 30 years.
With a capacity of over 32,000, it’s nowhere near the biggest in the Premier League, but the fans behind the goal can create a noise. That’s partly because it’s one of few stands in the league that boasts safe standing facilities. And, with the stand only metres away from the goal, it makes for a very atmospheric and intimidating venue.
Location, Location, Location the Key
Friday night under the Molineux lights 😍
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 21, 2018
When you add in the fact it has a city centre location and is packed full of pubs, there’s a very old-school feel to matchday in Wolverhampton, whether you are a home or away fan.
Some would argue that the ground needs improving to meet the standards of the modern game, and there had been talks that owners Fosun would do that. After all, in the current climate, clubs only seem to care about the revenue that corporate sales bring in.
They have resisted that temptation so far, though, meaning Molineux retains that old charm that has disappeared from far too many venues in the Premier League, for now.