Madejski Stadium

Madejski Stadium

Aerial view of Madejski Stadium in 2014
Full name Madejski Stadium
Location Junction 11
Coordinates 51°25′20″N 0°58′58″W / 51.42222°N 0.98278°W / 51.42222; -0.98278Coordinates: 51°25′20″N 0°58′58″W / 51.42222°N 0.98278°W / 51.42222; -0.98278
Owner RFC Holdings Ltd
Capacity 24,161[1]
Field size 105 m x 68 m (football) [2]
106m x 68m (rugby union)
Surface Desso GrassMaster
Opened 22 August 1998
Construction cost £50m
Reading F.C. (1998–present)
Richmond Rugby (Allied Dunbar Premiership)(1998–1999)
London Irish (Greene King IPA Championship)(2000–present)

The Madejski Stadium /məˈdski/ is a football stadium located in Reading, Berkshire, England. It is the home of Reading Football Club playing in the Football League Championship and the rugby union club London Irish as tenants. It also provides the finish for the Reading Half Marathon. The stadium is named after Reading's chairman Sir John Madejski. It is an all-seater bowl stadium with a capacity of 24,161 and is located close to the M4 motorway. It is built on the site of a former household waste dump and is surrounded by methane vents. The West Stand contains the Millennium Madejski Hotel.

The stadium was opened on 22 August 1998 and replaced Elm Park as Reading's home ground.


In 1994, the Taylor Report made all-seater stadiums compulsory in the top two divisions (the Premier League and the First Division). Reading were champions of the Second Division in 1994, and were promoted to the first division. Reading became subject to the Taylor requirements. Converting Elm Park to an all-seater stadium was not practical, so a location in Smallmead (to the south of the town) was identified as the site for a new stadium.[3] The location of a closed landfill, the site was purchased for £1, on the condition that the team develop the A33 relief road.[4] The last competitive match at Elm Park took place on 3 May 1998 against Norwich City, with Reading losing 0–1.[5]

Reading began the 1998–99 season at the Madejski Stadium.[3] It was opened on 22 August 1998 when Luton Town were beaten 3–0 with Grant Brebner having the honour of scoring the first ever goal at the stadium. Plans for the stadium had first been unveiled some three years previously, when chairman John Madejski had decided that Elm Park was unsuitable for redevelopment as an all-seater stadium and that relocation to a new site was necessary. Following the death of academy manager Eamonn Dolan in 2016, Reading announced that the North Stand would now be renamed The Eamonn Dolan Stand.[6]

Structure and facilities

The Madejski Stadium as viewed from the stadium's north stand.

The stadium cost more than £50m to build and the pitch incorporates a system of synthetic fibres interwoven with natural grass, installed at a cost of more than £750,000.[2]

The Eamonn Dolan Stand capacity is said to be 4,946 including 25 spaces for wheelchairs.[7] Although in use for all Reading matches, the stand is normally closed for London Irish and only opened in exceptional circumstances where demand requires.

The South Stand has a capacity of 4,350 including 29 wheelchair spaces and is where visiting supporters sit for Reading games. The initial allocation visiting teams receive is 2,327 and is the half of the stand joining onto the East Stand. Under the terms of the original lease, London Irish only utilised the South Stand for the most popular matches. However, with the original renegotiation and extension of the lease, the South Stand was used for all London Irish matches with an unreserved seating plan. London Irish sold season tickets for South Stand between 2008 and 2014-15. Since 2014, with falling attendance at London Irish, the South stands remained closed for rugby and only opened if required.

The East Stand has a capacity of 7,286 including 18 spaces for wheelchairs.[7] The stand also contains the stadium's video screen which is located in the corner adjoining the South Stand. The stand was open for all London Irish fixtures only until the end of the 2015-16 season.

The West Stand, the stadium's main stand, has a capacity of 7,579 including 15 wheelchair spaces and contains a lower and an upper tier. The upper level does not overhang the lower tier and the executive boxes are located between the two tiers. The tunnel and dugouts are located in this stand. From September 2016 the West Stand will be the only stand in regular use for London Irish home games. The outside of the stand contains the Millennium Madejski Hotel.


For the first time in its history, Reading Football Club participated in the Premier League in the 2006–07 season. As a result of the sell-out crowds for their first few fixtures of the season, the club announced its intention, in October 2006,[8] to make a planning application to extend the ground to between 37,000 and 38,000 seats. The application was made on 24 January 2007, proposing initially the extension of the East Stand with a further 6,000 seats (raising capacity to around 30,000) and subsequently extension of the North and South Stands to reach the full proposed capacity.[9]

On 24 May 2007, it was announced that planning permission had been granted to extend the stadium to a capacity of 36,900.[10] The first phase will expand the East Stand by 6,600 seats. Work was set to start in mid-2008, after the initial plan of extending in 2007 was scrapped due to spectator seats being affected, during the work, already being sold to season ticket holders.

Reading's relegation from the Premier League in 2008 meant that all expansion plans were put on hold, but were revived when promotion was again achieved in 2012.[11]

Plans to expand the ground were again put on hold after Reading were relegated back to the Football League Championship at the end of the 2012–13 season after a goalless draw at home to QPR on 28 April 2013.

International Football

The stadium has hosted five England under-21 internationals. These were as follows.

Year Date Opponents Result Attendance Part of
1999 3 September  Luxembourg 5–0 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification Group 5
2001 14 August  Netherlands 4–0 19,467 International friendly
2002 15 October  Macedonia 3–1 15,500 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification Group 7
2006 28 February  Norway 2–2 15,022 International friendly
2013 5 September  Moldova 1–0 5,268 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification Group 1

An England B match was also held at the stadium.

Year Date Home Result Away Attendance Part of
2006 25 May England England B 1–2  Belarus 22,032 International Friendly

Other international matches.

Year Date Team 1 Result Team 2 Attendance Part of
2003 7 September  Australia 2–1  Jamaica International Friendly

Rugby Union

London Irish playing London Wasps in August 2011

Although a designated football stadium, Madejski has been used regularly since opening for Rugby Union. Richmond were the first rugby team to become tenants of the Madejski, using the stadium from its opening season in 1998 after outgrowing their original home of Richmond Athletic Ground. This tenancy lasted only one season as Richmond went into administration and were nominally merged into London Irish.

London Irish moved into the Madejski in 2000 after a year of ground sharing at the Stoop Memorial Ground in Twickenham. On 11 January 2008, it was announced that London Irish had reached an agreement to continue playing home games at the Madejski Stadium until 2026.[12] Irish have seen their average crowds grow to more than 11,100 since moving to Reading in 2000, holding the record for the biggest rugby union Premiership attendance at a club ground, when 23,709 people saw Irish play London Wasps on 16 March 2008.[13] This record stood until 19 Sep 2009, when Leicester Tigers opened their new stand to increase capacity to 24,000.

In addition to London Irish home matches, the stadium has also hosted several knock out phases of European cup rugby where a neutral ground was required or where teams were required to play at a larger capacity ground.

Year Date Home Score Away Attendance Competition
2000 20 May NEC Harlequins England 42-33 France Narbonne 11,211 2000-01 European Challenge Cup Final
2003 25 May Bath England 30-48 England London Wasps 18,074 2002-03 Parker Pen Challenge Cup Final
2004 22 May Montferrand France 26-27 England NEC Harlequins 13,123 2003-04 Parker Pen Challenge Cup Final
2016 23 April Saracens England 24-17 England Wasps 16,820 2015-16 European Champions Cup Semi-final

Other Uses

The Madejski was selected as the venue for a charity friendly football match on May 3, 2006 featuring celebrities and football legends from England and Germany. The Match, named England vs Germany: The Legends was held to raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund and the British Red Cross and to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of England winning the 1966 World Cup. The German team won the match 4–2 in an exact reversal of the score from 1966.

The stadium is also the final venue for the Reading Senior Cup.[14]

Runners finishing the Reading Half Marathon cross the finish line inside the stadium. The stadium is also used as a hub for pre- and post-event services e.g. public transport terminus and bag drop during the day of the event.

A match from the 2000 Rugby League World Cup was also held here.

Year Date Team 1 Score Team 2 Attendance Part of
2000 2 November New Zealand  84 - 10  Cook Islands 3,982 2000 Rugby League World Cup Group 2


The highest attendance at the stadium was 24,184 (apparently exceeding the stadium's stated capacity) on 17 November 2012 for the Premier League game with Everton beating the previous record of 24,160 set on 16 September 2012 for the Premier League game with Tottenham Hotspur. The highest attendance for a cup match at the stadium was 24,107 on 3 December 2003 for the Football League Cup match with Chelsea.[15]

Highest attendances

Opponent Competition Date Attendance Notes
1 Everton 2012–13 Premier League 17 November 2012 24,184 Exceeding the stadium's stated capacity
2 West Ham United 2012–13 Premier League 29 December 2012 24,183 Exceeding the stadium's stated capacity
3 Tottenham Hotspur 2012–13 Premier League 16 September 2012 24,160
4 Manchester United 2007–08 Premier League 19 January 2008 24,134
5 Tottenham Hotspur 2007–08 Premier League 3 May 2008 24,125
6 Aston Villa 2006–07 Premier League 10 February 2007 24,122
7 Liverpool 2006–07 Premier League 7 April 2007 24,121
8 Newcastle United 2007–08 Premier League 27 October 2007 24,119
9 Fulham 2007–08 Premier League 12 April 2008 24,112
10 Tottenham Hotspur 2006–07 Premier League 12 November 2006 24,110
11 Newcastle United 2006–07 Premier League 30 April 2007 24,109
12 Chelsea 2003–04 Football League Cup 3 December 2003 24,107


On Reading match days, the stadium is served by a network of special bus services provided by Reading Buses and Stagecoach Buses. Two of these (Reading Buses F1 and F2) provide regular shuttle services from Reading railway station and from a park and ride site at Shinfield Park respectively. Fourteen further Reading Bus services provide links from various Reading suburbs and nearby towns and villages, including Newbury and Henley on Thames. Stagecoach services provide links from Basingstoke, Farnborough, Wokingham and Bracknell.[16][17]

On London Irish match days, Reading Buses provide a special shuttle service (R1) from Reading railway station. When no matches are taking place, the stadium can be reached from Reading town centre using Reading Buses Greenwave services.[18][19]

The proposed Green Park railway station, which would serve both the stadium and the adjacent Green Park Business Park, was put on hold on 27 October 2011. In April 2015, the plans were reapproved, with construction expected to start in October 2016 and a planned opening date in 2017. The new station will be just under a 1-mile (1.6 km) walk from the stadium.[20][21]


  1. "Madejski Stadium information". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Stadium pitch has been lengthened". 2 July 2007. Archived from the original on 22 August 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 1871 (2003). "The Home Grounds of Reading FC". 1871 – The Ultimate Reading FC Website. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  4. Digby (2001, p. 46)
  5. Loader, Graham (1998). "READING 0 Norwich City 1". Hob Nob Anyone?. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  6. "The Eamonn Dolan Stand". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  7. 1 2,,10306~311866,00.html
  8. "Royals ready to extend Madejski". BBC Sport. 21 September 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2007.
  9. "Plans for stadium expansion will be submitted to the Council later this week" (Press release). Reading F.C. 22 January 2007. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  10. "Committee Report by the Director of Environment Culture & Sport" (PDF). Reading Borough Council Planning Applications Committee. 23 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 April 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  11. "Anton Zingarevich makes Reading Premier League transfer list". BBC Sport. BBC. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  12. "London Irish make long term commitment to Madejski Stadium". Premiership rugby. Premiership Rugby. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  13. "Walder inspires Wasps win". Sky Sports. 11 January 2008.
  14. "Wokingham & Emmbrook win Reading Senior Cup". Berkshire Media Group. Bracnell News. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  15. "Highest Attendances". Royals Record. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  16. "Buses/Trains for Madejski Stadium". Reading Football Club. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  17. "Football Buses - Times and fare information for the 2014/15 season". Reading Buses. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  18. "Rugby Buses". Reading Buses. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  19. "Greenwave Madjeski Stadium Park & Ride" (PDF). Reading Buses. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  20. Millward, David (27 October 2011). "Green Park station plan hits the buffers". Get Reading. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  21. "Green Park railway station approved for Reading". News. BBC. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  • Digby, Bob (2001), It's a World Thing, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199134286, retrieved 2 June 2011 
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