As the amount of money at the top end of professional football continues to grow, it's becoming increasingly difficult for less wealthy English sides to mix it with the Premier League's strongest outfits. In recent seasons, numerous clubs have bounced around between the top flight and the Championship, consistently proving too strong for the second division, but not competitive enough in the Premier League. Perhaps the most archetypal "yo-yo" team of all is Norwich City.
The Canaries' owners aren't even one of the most wealthy in the Championship, let alone the top flight; however, a state-of-the-art training ground (The Lotus Training Centre), an academy that's capable of consistently producing young talent, and a recruitment department that's been able to unearth gems like Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia, means City have been able to punch well above their weight in recent times. Another key factor that's central to their progress is a strong fanbase and an established home: Carrow Road.
In this article, we'll be providing you with a comprehensive guide to the Norwich City home stadium, describing its facilities, size, capacity, and history, and detailing the recent renovation work that's been completed, as well as mentioning any plans for future expansion. As part of our ongoing efforts to greater understand the importance of Stadia & Operations in football, this article will be the first in a series of info-packed Football Stadium Guides.
Location: Norwich, Norfolk
Record Attendance: 43,984, Norwich City 0-2 Leicester City, 1962-63 FA Cup sixth round, 30th March 1963.
Record Attendance (all-seater): 27,137, Norwich City 3-2 Newcastle United, 2015-16 Premier League, 2nd April 2016.
Other Facilities: A Holiday Inn hotel between The Barclay and the Jarrold Stand (on a 150-year lease from the club), catering facilities provided by Delia's Canary Catering, including "Delia's Restaurant and Bar" and "Yellows American Bar & Grill", "The Gunn Club", a hospitality suite behind The Barclay, and various other conference facilities.
Norwich City Football Club was founded in 1902, after a meeting at the Criterion Cafe in the city centre. In their early days, the first team played at Newmarket Road, before moving to The Nest, their home ground between 1908 and 1935. Named due to the club's "Canaries" nickname and situated in an old disused quarry, The Nest was a ground with bags of character and a large concrete wall at one end supporting a cliff, on which supporters used to watch matches. Unsurprisingly, it was eventually deemed hazardous and inadequate for football in Division Two, where the Canaries had recently achieved promotion to.
Subsequently, Norwich City moved to a new site, Carrow Road (named after the street the site is located on), purpose-built by the club and opened on 21st August 1935. Situated just outside the heart of the city between the railway station and the River Wensum, it was undeniably an upgrade on their former home, despite those old sentimental attachments. Here are a few key facts about Carrow Road:
When Norwich City moved to Carrow Road, they were under pressure. The FA wrote to the club on 15th May 1935, saying that The Nest "was no longer suitable for large crowds and measures must be taken". They forced the club's hand, and given that expansion on The Nest site wasn't possible, thereby sparked a rapid 82-day construction project focused on getting a new ground ready for the following season. Norwich City acquired a site on the Boulton Paul Sports Ground, which belonged to J. & J. Colman at the time, and got work on the stadium that remains the club's home today.
Since its opening in 1935, a number of alterations and upgrades have taken place at Carrow Road. Floodlights were added in 1956, costing the club a whopping £9,000 and nearly sending them into bankruptcy. The capacity was reduced after the Ibrox Stadium disaster in 1971, with 12,675 seats put in place by 1979. After a fire partially destroyed the old City Stand in 1984, it was demolished and replaced with a new City Stand in 1987.
Then, after the post-Hillsborough Taylor Report just a few years later, which recommended that all professional football grounds in the country be converted into all-seater facilities, Carrow Road got rid of its standing areas. It's been all-seater since 1992, with the South Stand being replaced in 2003 by the new, 8,000 seat Jarrold Stand. The ground's overall capacity has been gradually increased over the years, with some work in the summer of 2010 boosting it up from 26,018 to 27,000, by finding additional capacity for seats. At the time of writing, the capacity is 27,359, with the ground's record attendance standing at 27,137 (a figure notched during a Premier League match against Newcastle United on 2nd April 2016.
Carrow Road has been used by England's youth teams on numerous occasions, and it has also been used to stage international women's football. England Under-21s played two qualifiers at the ground in 1983, as well as a handful of friendlies in the 2000s and 2010s. In the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup, England's women's team played out a goalless draw against Spain at the Norwich City stadium.
There are four stands at Carrow Road:
The Barclay Stand (North) - 6267 capacity
The Jarrold Stand (East) - 8434 capacity
The River End (South) - 6239 capacity
Geoffrey Watling Stand (West) - 4338 capacity
The Barclay is the loudest section of the ground, with its lower tier housing a large group of vocal fans that stand up throughout each match. The "Snake Pit", situated on the corner between The Barclay and the Geoffrey Watling Stand, is also known for its atmosphere.
Carrow Road Seating Plan (Source: Norwich City FC)
Opened in its current form by former player Ken Brown in 2004, the South Stand is the largest stand at Carrow Road. A single-tired stand of cantilever construction that can house 8,434 people, it was named after Sir Arthur South, a well-liked chairman and ambassador of the club in the 1970s and 80s. Called the Jarrold Stand for many years due to it being sponsored by local department store Jarrolds, it was announced in 2016 that this section of the ground would go back to its original name the South Stand.
The Geoffrey Watling City Stand, meanwhile, is named after former Norwich City president Geoffrey Watling, who died in 2004, aged 91. Sitting opposite the Jarrold Stand, it's the ground's smallest stand, having only one tier (which is considerably smaller than the Jarrold). It also contains the directors' box, the press area, and hospitality suites. Also referred to as the City Stand, it cost £1.7 million to build, after the fire damaged its predecessor in 1984.
The Barclay is where you'll hear a lot of the chants emanating from on matchday. Named after Captain Evelyn Barclay, a former vice-president of Norwich City who paid for the roofing on the original stand, it was first built back in 1937, but the current structure dates back to 1992, when it was rebuilt as part of the post-Taylor Report refurbishments. Its current capacity is 6,267, and since 2018 it has featured the name of local brewers Woodforde's Brewery across it, following the signing of a sponsorship deal in June of that year.
Opposite The Barclay is the Regency Security Stand, named after sponsors Regency Security, the club's current security firm. It's also be referred to using a few other names — given its location closest to the River Wensum, it was originally called the "River End", and this name is still used by large swathes of the club's fanbase. Fans also call it the "Norwich & Peterborough Stand", due to the fact that it was sponsored and renamed after Norwich & Peterborough Building Society from the 1990s iup until 2017. In summer 2010, an extra 160 seats were added to the stand to raise the capacity to 6,239, just shy of the limit of the Barclay behind the opposite goal.
The corner infill between the Jarrold and the Regency Security Stand is called the Joma Community Stand, and it offers specially-built facilities for disabled fans. It has a capacity of 1708.
Carrow Road is consistently at capacity for league matches; the club has a capped season ticket allocation of 22,000, and a substantial waiting list. Home tickets regularly sell out, and in 2013-14 there was an occupancy rate of 99.95% at the ground, one of the Premier League's highest. Therefore, plans to expand the stadium's capacity have been floated by a number of people, over the course of many years.
The Geoffrey Watling Stand is designed to allow a second tier to be built on top of it, but the busy road behind the stand has been an obstacle to these plans in the past. In 2011, chairman Alan Bowkett discussed the possibility of adding around 8,000 seats to the ground, stating "the obvious route is the Geoffrey Watling stand, whether you put another layer on it or take it down and re-build it." But since then, no major moves have taken place, although in 2019 some strips of land were purchased directly outside Carrow Road for a rumoured £500,000.
It's widely understood that no building will take place on that land; however, what these purchases do is allow Norwich City to add further tiering to other stands, because regulations state the club could not develop an "overhang" over any ground that they do not own. With that in mind, it's possible that we'll see some stadium expansion at Carrow Road in the coming years.
Carrow Road has also developed a reputation in recent years for impressive live concerts from some of the world's biggest musicians. Status Quo played there back in 1997, and Elton John has appeared at the venue on a couple of occasions, most recently in summer 2022. Last summer also saw The Killer take to the stage, while Take That performed there in 2017 and 2019. Arctic Monkeys are the latest big-name band to get on the bill — they're scheduled to play at Carrow Road in June 2023.
There's another interesting feature that we're yet to touch on, too. Since 2016, the infill where the Holiday Inn hotel is located has housed a large rotating LED screen that shows video broadcasts and advertising messages. It was the first of its kind to be unveiled, and it remains the only rotating big screen in world football.
Want to find out more about Norwich City and the facilities boasted by the club? Check out our article on The Lotus Training Centre, the Norwich City training ground.
Norwich City FC's stadium is called Carrow Road due to the fact that this is the street it is located on. The name "Carrow" is related to Carrow Abbey, a former Benedictine priory in southeast Norwich, near Bracondale.
Carrow Road was built in 1935, which as of 2023 makes it approximately 88 years old.