West Ham have been engaged with a number of other parties in a fight to take over the tenancy of the Olympic Stadium. It now looks as though the club is firmly in the driving seat and will move into the venue once all of the fine details and legal issues have been sorted out.
On the surface of things it’s a very positive move for the club and one which will allow them to benefit financially. The current capacity of Upton Park is just over the 35,000 mark and the capacity of the Olympic Stadium would be reduced from 80,000 to 60,000 for football matches, the same capacity as Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
This would certainly enable the club to benefit in a financial sense via gate receipts and it would push West Ham up a level in terms of the transfer fees they could afford and the wage packets they could offer existing and future players. Current fans may also benefit from a slight reduction in ticket prices.
There are also many different sponsorship options available to the club. It’s unlikely the London Legacy group would allow any commercial sponsorship of the venue but the possibilities inside the stadium are numerous and far greater than those currently at Upton Park. This would create even more additional money which could be pumped back into the infrastructure of the club.
The main argument against this move is the fact that many fans are not happy about the proposals. Many West Ham fans suggest the move means the club will lose its identity and become a more commercial based brand which will benefit those who control the club over the fans.
In terms of location, the impact isn’t too bad because Stratford is accessible to West Ham supporters who live and work in London and it’s also very easy for the club’s Essex based supporters to get to and from. However, no section of fans have ever voiced any concerns or a desire to move away from Upton Park.
This feeling of identity loss could create friction between the supporters and those who control the club which may in turn lead to fan protests which could have a knock on effect to the club’s plans to move forward. If West Ham do want to become one of the big boys then they have to move, it’s that simple but many would prefer a different location.
Watch this space.
image: © ascarr