West Ham United legend Tony Cottee has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the club’s unhappy move to the London Stadium.
West Ham fans miss their beloved Upton Park more than many of them ever imagined they would.
The Hammers left their home of 112 years for the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford back in 2016.
And West Ham supporters simply haven’t taken to their new home.
An unhappy home
The Hammers have made some cosmetic changes to try and improve the matchday experience over the last two seasons.
But some claret carpet and squaring off the stands behind the goals cut little ice with supporters.
Many West Ham fans feel they were taken to the new ground on false pretences.
‘Sold a dream, given a nightmare’ and ‘Lies, lies, lies’ are just two of the catchlines emblazoned on protest banners sported by angry supporters.
Fans left beloved Upton Park under false pretences
And the stadium move sits at the very heart of the festering resentment between the fanbase and co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold and their vice-chairman Karren Brady.
Supporters, away fans and pundits feel the move – and the fact the London Stadium is not designed for football – has played its part in destroying West Ham’s soul.
Upton Park was razed to the ground to make way for flats as part of West Ham’s move to Stratford so there is no turning back.
Now legendary striker Cottee has spoken out about the stadium move.
Speaking to The West Ham Way Extra Time podcast this week, Cottee says the big mistake was made in 2005.
Cottee nails it over stadium move
“I think it’s a fantastic stadium, I really do, I go to the stadium and I think ‘wow this is a fantastic stadium’,” Cottee told The West Ham Way Extra Time podcast.
“But I don’t think it’s ever really been a football stadium. That’s been the problem. As fans, we’ve adapted to it – we’ve had what four years of the stadium now – and I think to be fair the club have done their best in difficult circumstances because they’ve tried to make it a football stadium.
“But the problems don’t go back to when we left Upton Park. The problems go back to 2005, when it was announced that the Olympics in 2012 was going to be the London Olympics and you would have thought that the people involved in that would have got their heads together and thought once the Olympics has left town what is going to be made of the stadium?
‘You just feel too far away from the action’
“And if you look at what’s happened all around the world invariably the stadiums are either derelict or they’re not used or they’re just built and nothing ever happens in those stadiums. They wanted a legacy, but the only legacy that could ever be there was a football stadium.
“People don’t really go to watch athletics, it’s a great sport, but people don’t go in their numbers to watch it. The only way to make that ground a profit was to have football there and just the wrong decisions were made. What should have happened, they should have built the stadium, with the view of exactly what happened with Manchester City’s ground The Etihad for the Commonwealth Games, you do your event and then you dig down or whatever and you make it into a football stadium.
“With our ground, it’s a wonderful stadium but I still don’t get that football feel and for fans growing up at Upton Park, where you’re very close to the pitch, sometimes you just feel too far away from the action.”