When it was confirmed that the UK and Ireland had won the rights to host the European Championships in 2028, it seemed almost a formality that Anfield would be one of the stadiums to welcome the competition.
And yet, when the list of host grounds was revealed, the home of Liverpool FC was notable by its absence.
The Football Association has instead chosen the incomplete Bramley Moore Dock stadium as a host, alongside:
- Wembley Stadium
- Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- Villa Park
- Etihad Stadium
- St James’ Park
- Principality Stadium
- Aviva Stadium
- Casement Park
So why has the FA chosen to overlook Anfield in favour of a new build in Merseyside that has been delayed and stalled already?
You will be surprised to hear that there’s a good enough reason for Anfield not to feature on the list of Euro 2028 hosts, although it’s born our of a rather antiquated UEFA rule.
The governing body of European football requires pitches to be a standardised size of between 105m long and 68m wide – this is in a bid to prevent teams from schooling the system by having ridiculously big or small pitches in a bid to gain a tactical advantage.
Unfortunately, Anfield’s pitch dimensions aren’t quite up to spec – the playing surface only measures 101m long, and while that is long enough to satisfy the needs of Premier League and continental football, it is considered too short to host major games and finals – hence why Anfield has also never been selected to host the Champions League or Europa League final.
Due to the nature of Anfield, it’s impossible to increase the length of the pitch to the required amount – the Kop End and the Anfield Road end would both be too close to the goals if the playing surface was increased in size.
So unfortunately, football fans in Merseyside will instead have to head to Bramley Moore Dock for their Euro 2028 fix – assuming, of course, that the construction is completed in time and Everton haven’t ran out of money in the interim period.
Which Premier League Club Has the Biggest Pitch?
Where possible, a Premier League club will look to conform to the 105m by 68m dimensions – that’s so that they can be selected to host all major tournament games by adhering to UEFA’s standards.
So, 13 of the 20 Premier League grounds – as of the 2023/24 season – have those exact dimensions for their playing surfaces.
But Nottingham Forest have taken things slightly further with their City Ground home. The official dimensions of their pitch are 105.2m by 71.3m – giving them extra room for manoeuvre.
Is there any advantage to having a bigger pitch? There’s more space – certainly in wider areas at the City Ground, which can benefit teams that look to play quick balls over the top of the opposition defence, while wide players may also have an extra beat with which to control the ball and consider their options.
But these days, tactically speaking, even shorter passing sides like Liverpool and Manchester City will look to exploit opponents with longer balls into space – the Reds have a master in the art in the shape of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Which Premier League Club Has the Smallest Pitch?
Some Premier League clubs have smaller pitches than the UEFA guidelines – either by necessity or by design.
As we’ve learned, Anfield (101m x 68m) is on the shorter side, as are Bramall Lane (101m x 68m), Selhurst Park (101m x 68m) and Goodison Park (100.4m x 68m).
Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road is a smaller surface too, measuring 100.6m long and just 65.8m wide. Given the nature of their tactics and a desire to minimise the amount of time opposition players have on the ball, those dimensions suit them down to the ground.
But the award for the smallest pitch in the Premier League goes to Fulham’s Craven Cottage, which measures just 100m long and 65m wide.
Has Anfield Ever Hosted an International Game?
It should be said that UEFA’s ruling on pitch sizes is a modern change, which explains how Anfield has hosted previous European Championship games.
The stadium was used for three group games at Euro ’96, as well as the quarter-final between France and the Netherlands – the latter famous for Clarence Seedorf’s vital miss from the penalty spot.
Anfield hosted international games as long ago as the 1800s, and was a regular stop-off for the England side of the early 1900s. But with the last international match at the ground taking place as far back as 2006 – England’s 2-1 win over Uruguay, it’s sad to say we might not see another international contest at Anfield.