Journalist Martin Samuel has made a huge claim about West Ham United’s stadium plans with athletics expected to move out.
Respected columnist Samuel is a big West Ham fan and he has been having his say on the future of the London Stadium.
Many West Ham fans were – and remain – unhappy with the London Stadium since the big move to Stratford in 2016.
There have been a plethora of issues and grievances – many to be expected when moving stadiums, others not so much. But the major bone of contention has always been the distance from the stands to the pitch.
Given what West Ham fans had at their beloved Upton Park and the vision sold to them on leaving the famous Boleyn Ground, it is easy to see why.
Changes have been made to the stands behind both goals to square them off in line with more traditional football stadia.
And earlier this month West Ham announced that redevelopment of the west stand will take place this summer alongside a stadium capacity increase from 60,000 to 62,500.
The Hammers say the work will reduce the gap between the upper and lower tiers.
Dramatically improved performances and results under David Moyes have helped take the focus away from the stadium.
But whether some fans will ever truly feel at home in the former Olympic arena in its current state is debatable.
Journalist Martin Samuel makes huge claim about West Ham stadium plans with athletics expected to move out
One thing that caught the imagination of West Ham fans about the otherwise doomed PAI Capital “takeover bid” was the apparent focus on turning the London Stadium into a proper football ground.
But it seems West Ham have big plans for the stadium if and when UK Athletics moves out.
In his brilliant Daily Mail column, journalist Samuel has made a huge claim about West Ham’s stadium plans with athletics expected to move out.
Samuel states that there will soon be an agreement for UK Athletics to depart the London Stadium allowing West Ham to renovate the still largely bowl-shaped arena into a fit-for-purpose football ground.
“What is about to happen now, is what should have happened more than a decade ago,” Samuel says in his Daily Mail column.
“The Olympic Stadium was never viable as the home of athletics…
“Talks are ongoing about UKA walking away and making their home elsewhere. They would receive between £10-15million to facilitate this process.
“West Ham would then be free to remould the arena for football. Fans nearer to the pitch, the seating reconfigured. With an average league attendance of 59,088 this season – the third biggest in the country – there is a good football ground struggling to get out from under all that bad planning.
“Nineteen home games a season, plus cup matches, maybe even Europe: that’s legacy. The odd sparsely supported Diamond League event, or a backward-looking Anniversary Games once a year is not.
“West Ham got more to their family fun day than UKA did to their last track meet. Athletics does not need 60,000 seats. It could have a more logical, manageable home in Birmingham after the Commonwealth Games, or at a revamped Crystal Palace.
“The London Stadium, we are often informed, costs this country millions. Not as a football stadium, it doesn’t. If all it did was host West Ham and the odd one-off gig in the summer, it would show a healthy profit.
“The drain is the annual conversion to host athletics. There is no betrayal, then, in assessing what works and what does not: it is not feasible amid a cost of living crisis to pay £3m for one athletics meeting each year.”
Former Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn, who went through the courts to stop the Hammers being handed the keys to the Stratford ground over his old club, recently said West Ham pulled off the coup of the century getting the stadium, even if fans don’t agree.
How much redevelopment can be done in the stadium remains a grey area, though. There are claims that it is not possible to dig down at the Stratford ground in order to help improve the rake and C-Value of West Ham’s home while straightening the sides.