‘We built a new stadium but we never found our soul… we left it at Highbury’: Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits 2006 move to £390m Emirates Stadium cost the club its ‘atmosphere’
- Arsene Wenger was in charge when Arsenal left Highbury for the Emirates
- Frenchman believes the north London club left its ‘soul’ at their former home
- Wenger says building rules meant the stands were too far from the pitch
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal lost their ‘soul’ when they left Highbury and moved to the Emirates Stadium.
The Frenchman was in charge of the club throughout the construction process and led the team into their new £390million home in 2006.
But despite the financial benefits of moving to a state-of-the-art ground with more than 20,000 extra seats, Wenger claims the north London club were worse off in terms of atmosphere.
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal lost their soul when they moved to the Emirates back in 2006
Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg (left to right) lift the Premier League at Highbury in 2002
‘I moved from Highbury, which was similar to Anfield, but there was a soul in the stadium,’ Wenger told beIN Sports.
‘We built a new stadium but we never found our soul – we left our soul at Highbury.’
The Gunners only moved 500 metres away from their home of 93 years, but they have struggled to replicate the success they enjoyed at Highbury.
Wenger won three Premier League titles at the 38,419-seater stadium, which benefitted from having all four stands close to the pitch.
Thousands of empty seats can be seen at the Emirates during a Europa League tie this season
And the former Monaco boss believes that modern building restrictions meant Arsenal lost some of what made Highbury special when they made the move to the Emirates.
‘We could never recreate it for security reasons,’ he added.
‘The distance from the pitch to the stand had to be bigger as we needed ambulances to come in.
‘The inclination of the stands had to be smaller, all those things together that we didn’t find to recreate the atmosphere.’