The Valley is a 27,116-capacity football stadium in Charlton,
London. It is the home of Charlton Athletic F.C.
The ground dates to 1919, at a time when Charlton Athletic was
moderately successful and looking for a new home. The club found
an abandoned sand and chalk pit in Charlton, but did not have
sufficient funds to fully develop the site. An army of volunteer
Charlton Athletic supporters dug out a massive pit for the pitch,
and used the spoil from the excavation to build up the sides.
The ground's name most likely comes from its original valley-like
appearance. The club played its first game at the ground before
any seats, or even terraces, were installed; there was simply a
roped-off pitch with the crowd standing or sitting on the
adjoining earthworks. The unique circumstances of the ground's
initial construction led to an unusually intense bond between
the club's supporters and the site that exists to this day.
For many years, The Valley was the largest league ground in
London. However, Charlton's long absence from the top level of
English football prevented much-needed refurbishment. Eventually,
the club's debts led to bankruptcy administration. A supporters'
trust successfully acquired the club in 1984, but The Valley
remained under the ownership of the club's former owner. The
next year, Charlton Athletic left The Valley, entering into a
groundshare with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
In 1988, the ownership of the club and The Valley was again
united, and in an event that harkened back to the ground's
initial construction, thousands of supporters volunteered to
clean the ground, eventually burning the debris in a huge
bonfire on the pitch. By this time, however, the large terraces
were no longer seen as desirable or safe. Charlton Athletic
supporters then proposed a brand-new stadium to surround the
original pitch. However, the Greenwich Borough Council
overwhelmingly turned down plans to renovate the ground. Club
supporters formed their own local political party, the Valley
Party, in response to the council's refusal. The party ran
candidates for all but two Greenwich Council seats, sparing the
two councillors who had approved the new stadium plans. The
party won 15,000 votes in the 1990 elections, successfully
pressuring the council to approve the plans for the new stadium.
In 1991, construction began on the new Valley, and the club
moved from Selhurst Park to West Ham's Upton Park. The modern
stadium opened in December 1992.
There are now plans to expand The Valley in three phases, with a
final capacity of 40,600. However, these plans will require
Greenwich Council approval.