Stan Kroenke’s decision to fund the construction of the Emirates Stadium and move Arsenal away from Highbury has come under fire from former Manchester United star Eric Cantona.
The Gunners spent 93 years playing at the infamous Highbury ground before moving to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. The switch came under criticism in the past due to the open nature of the newly-built ground with fans sat further away from the pitch creating a more open atmosphere.
Highbury was renowned for it’s intense atmosphere and many opposition teams felt intimidated when they played Arsenal at the historic stadium, similar to that of Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium and Manchester United’s home of Old Trafford. Kroenke is expected to invest further funds into redeveloping the Emirates Stadium in the coming years, a decision that has come under criticism by former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson who believes the owner’s money would be better spent on investing in Mikel Arteta’s playing squad and get the Gunners challenging for trophies once again.
The north London outfit have enjoyed a stellar start to the new campaign and currently sit top of the Premier League table after seven fixtures. Despite the buzz around the Emirates Stadium at the moment, Cantona has admitted he is not the biggest fan of Arsenal’s home ground and has revealed that some Gunners fans share his view.
Speaking to The Athletic, the ex-Manchester United star said: “The trips are about going inside the passion of football, understanding the story of a club, how football is used, then how you live your life. We were speaking about my favourite football stadiums earlier but now all the stadiums are called Emirates or Allianz.
“These stadiums lost the soul and history of the club, like Arsenal and West Ham. I played at those old stadiums, like Highbury and Upton Park.
“I spoke with some Arsenal fans and they hate these (new) stadiums. These fans lost the soul of their clubs.
“Fortunately, Old Trafford is still Old Trafford. Anfield is still Anfield.”
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham have recently move into the brand new state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after moving away from White Hart Lane back in 2019. With their rivals looking to upgrade their playing facilities, Kroenke is keen to keep pace and improve the Emirates Stadium despite Cantona feeling a part of Arsenal’s soul has been lost following the stadium switch 16 years ago.