Since the launch of our website in 2020 we have written a few times about the pitch, looking at the history of the field of play, how the pitch evolved in different parts of the world, and the effects that different size fields have.
Today we take a more proactive look, based on Peter Hoehne’s 2026 NORTH AMERICAN WORLD CUP: Capturing The New Generation Fan, and imagining what football might be in a world with a New Generation Fan size pitch.
With a smaller surface the New Generation Fan would be able to enjoy a faster game – more turnovers of possession, more shots, more chances to score – but most importantly more action would be near to the defending team’s goal. With the decreased field length, a much higher percentage of the game will take place in and around the penalty area. The New Generation Fans want to watch games with lots of scoring opportunities, and lots of scoring!
Having a smaller standard pitch size also has value in the fact that the pitch can fit in a variety of different type of stadiums. Baseball stadiums in North America and Asia could be used for football as well if it were accepted to have a smaller playing surface, like NYC FC uses in New York City. When events are in nations with a variety of sporting stadiums – like in North America in 2026 – a smaller pitch would make it far less costly to host the events. In addition, youth facilities that have slightly smaller fields, or need more pitches could utilize the smaller standard field size to make room for an entire new pitch or eliminate the need to build expensive new fields.
Looking to other sports around the globe, sports that have evolved with the tastes of the new generation fans in their sport have continued to grow, where sports stuck in tradition have declined quickly in popularity. Basketball has moved towards a much faster pace, American football towards a quick strike offense, baseball towards homeruns centric game, and cricket moving to the immensely popular T10 style of play. All the biggest sports in the world are moving towards a faster more exciting game. The traditions of football are fundamental to the sport and should certainly be protected, but there is a clear shift in sport and if football misses the boat, it might be left behind for good in some of these markets – or in America’s case never achieve its potential market share at all.
In our opinion a league that is the first to move to a smaller field size might experience a rise in popularity based on the unique fast style of play the smaller pitch would provide. It offers many advantages in terms of how the game is played, but just the fact that any league that did this would be different and seen as progressive could represent a massive increase in viewership!