With it now confirmed that West Ham will be moving from their current home Upton Park – or the Boleyn Ground if you prefer – to the Olympic Park in the east end of London, I am posing the question…is it a wise move for the club?
The club have announced their plans to turn the stadium into a 54,000 capacity venue and that it should be ready for the 2016-17 season. The move could potentially cost the club a lot of money once all the relevant renovations are made. The club have agreed a 99-year lease which will see them pay £2 million a year.
West Ham are without a doubt one of the biggest clubs in London and despite their mid-table positioning they have a history that far exceeds their league position. However that does not change the view that, in my mind at least, they aren’t big enough for such a huge stadium.
Upton Park currently has a capacity of around 35,000 but do they have the ability to pull in that extra 20,000 people per-week if they remain in their current state? Will that many extra people pay to go and see a mid-table team? Let’s not forget that by 2016 there is no telling where the club will be. I’m sure that most Hammers fans would hope that by then their team would be striving for the top places in the Premier League, but they could just as easily be struggling at the bottom or be back in the Championship.
West Ham impressively sold out their allocation for the play-off final last season and that was an incredible achievement, the only worry I have is whether they can do it week-in week-out.
I have no doubt that they will be able to do so against the big clubs in the division, but against the smaller sides, or even Championship sides if that’s where they are.
Don’t get me wrong I hope they do sell it out, I really do, I think it would be great for the club. But I don’t think it will be easy, maybe we will have to wait and see when it comes to ticket prices. The club have said that tickets will be good value and so hopefully that will see them sell it out.
However if West Ham go on a bad run will all those fans still go? Like we have seen with Arsenal – at times – and Aston Villa this season, when the form drops the attendance drops with it. Mind you West Ham have a more loyal fanbase than most clubs, kudos to them for that.
If this were to happen then there would be no chance of them filling the Olympic Stadium whatsoever. This move will have to be based on the idea that West Ham can maintain their position in the top flight and better their current standings.
If not the club could face that ugly consequence in which they are left with a half empty stadium with the unattractive sight of seats not being filled and that would not be good for the club.
In addition, with the start of financial fair play coming in from next season, to spend so much money on the move to the Olympic Stadium, despite the fact that West Ham are one of the more financially stable top flight clubs, does not mean that they will be financially safe once the costs of the stadium are taken into account.
Any bans from financial fair play could see any club guilty of breaching the rules banned from European football. This would make any club up the table the Hammers plan to make completely worthless, if they were to fall outside the fair play rules that is they may be financially stable and I hope they are, I hate seeing clubs falling into financial difficulties.
Of course this is hypothetical, the club could thrive in new surroundings and fill the stadium week-after-week but it is something I just can’t see happening.
What do you West Ham fans think? Is this a move that you are looking forward to or are openly against?
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