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Bend it like Barnshaws, the art of UK stadia construction

Projects for Premier League sides have included developing the roof over what is now known as the Sir Alex Ferguson stand

The stadia that host English premiership football matches are often seen as the physical representations of the titanic sporting and financial battles in one of the world's most competitive leagues: the intimidating amphitheatre of the Etihad Stadium, the geometric confluence of the Emirates, the raucous intimacy of Selhurst Park and the traditional fortress that is Old Trafford. All of these arenas share at least one aspect of their construction – they all incorporate curved structural steel from metal bending and fabrication experts, Barnshaws Section Benders.

Supplying steelwork for stadia is one of the most demanding applications for structural steel. The high safety requirements place stadia at CE Execution Class 3, one of the highest quality certifications for structural steel. Furthermore, due to their size, a large capacity is required to deliver typically hundreds of tonnes of sections to what are often exacting deadlines on each project.

Stadia builds and upgrades are usually required to be finished before major events or at the beginning of a season, so that the investment made by clubs can be quickly recouped. Barnshaws Section Benders offers both high capacity and extensive production expertise which has enabled the business to service a wide range of stadium requirements, helping to deliver the world class facilities that the sport demands.

Greg North, Commercial Director at Barnshaws Section Benders, explains how the demands are managed: "Most building projects are managed to strict timescales; new builds have investors to satisfy, refurbishments have shutdowns and redirects contributing to the cost and time pressure. Stadia however are a little different, if the ground isn't finished the game won't be played there, as football fixtures won't wait. Our focus on precision and on-time delivery means that, like a top player, we can add value to a team effort and ensure a good result is delivered."

Projects for Premier League sides have included developing the roof over what is now known as the Sir Alex Ferguson stand at Manchester United's Old Trafford; fabricating the cones for Manchester City's Etihad Stadium and supplying roof tees for Arsenal's Emirates – all in conjunction with contractor Severfield. Furthermore, Barnshaws aided in the redevelopment of Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park roof with contractor Archbell Greenwood, a stadium that is regarded as one of the most atmospheric in the country.

Recent projects include the relocation of West Ham to the ex-Olympic London Stadium including its 6,000 tonne roof and elements for the new Spurs ground adjacent to the original White Hart Lane.

In addition, Barnshaws has been involved with a number of renovations for Championship and Football League sides, including Bristol City, Cardiff City, Coventry City, Ipswich Town, Maidstone Town, MK Dons, Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic. What differentiates Barnshaws contribution is the variation of the projects, ranging from supports for new floodlights, to terracing and roof structures – displaying the wide ranging expertise and experience inherent in the business.

Barnshaws is regarded as the world's most capable metal bending company, specialising specifically in precision curving of ferrous and non-ferrous products. Based in the Midlands, but with operations in the North of England, Scotland and in Europe, the business has supported the civil engineering, power generation, offshore, oil and gas, industrial, commercial vehicle and construction sectors since 1969.

Stadiums have become as much an embodiment of the power of modern day football clubs as the accolades they accumulate. Every football club wants to present their home as a fortress to the away side, an atmosphere that owes much to the aesthetic capabilities of structural steel. Top clubs are in a financial as well as sporting battle, one which can be tipped by new stadiums or ground redevelopment to achieve maximum profitability. However beyond this, the lesson of modern football has been that world class facilities raise the standards of the sport, whether in the upper echelons or grassroots of the game.

To service these projects requires the utmost expertise, capacity and flexibility – which has allowed Barnshaws to bend the rules when it comes to full service structural steel supply. With innovative suppliers helping to achieve these flagship engineering projects, the sport can be given further room to breathe and develop, which has seen the English Premier League eclipse its foreign competitors. This provides the perfect pedestal for what is the most competitive league in the world and one of the most passionate sporting cultures found anywhere - something that players, managers and most importantly fans, can all revel in every weekend. 

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