It’s fair to say we haven’t found the move to the London Stadium particularly easy or as successful at everyone would have liked.
Whether the Mayor of London likes it or not, if West Ham hadn’t moved in and taken a 99-year lease on the place that ‘old’ Olympic stadium would have been an acutely embarrassing – and very costly – white elephant which the Government would have found very difficult to explain or justify.
Like some other Olympic stadiums around the world it would have been dead as a dodo, not too many souls in sight, weeds sprouting all over the place, and literally haemorrhaging money by the millions. The millions squandered are nowhere near as much as we’re apparently willing to hand over to the European Union, but it’s a hell of a lot nonetheless.
In fact the bill nudged nearly £500million before they ever realised they had spent so much on what was effectively a one-horse pony. For all the talk about an Olympic legacy no one seems to have worked out precisely how such a legacy was going to work long term, what it would cost, and who would be in overall charge on a day to day basis. There would appear to have been no real financial Plan B until West Ham came to the rescue.
West Ham in my opinion saved the London Stadium and in effect the surrounding area of Stratford. I wrote about the upcoming move back in issues three, five and seven, and I explained why I thought it would be a good move for West Ham and I still believe this to be the case, even though it hadn’t gone quite how I thought it would. It is impossible to argue West Ham did not negotiate a great deal when they struck an agreement to pay £2.5m for 25 “event days” per year.
The stadium landlords E20 loses £2.25m simply by letting West Ham play matches there due to costs such as stewarding, policing, catering and turnstile operation that they are responsible for. In fact E20 had to take a loan of £14million to avoid going bust. A situation which could still happen. Should the company go bust, West Ham will be left in limbo, although they are unlikely to be made homeless.
If the current financial problems of their landlords, E20 Stadium LLP, ends with West Ham in an even stronger position, perhaps even eventual owners of the ground, it would be a remarkable business success for the owners. Call me cynical but I have a feeling the two Davids may have seen this situation as a possibility when they first considered the move.
I honestly believe that in the not too distant future West Ham will end up owning the London Stadium at which point, the vast number of issues that fans have with the stadium can begin to be properly rectified, without the board having to argue and fight with E20. I still believe that our club can become a major force to be reckoned with, although I think we are still a good six years away from that.
We still have to progress and become a regular top six Premier League contender. My immediate desire for West Ham, would be to win a cup. I don’t care what cup. League or FA. After a summer of unprecedented spending, a relegation battle should not be a concern Manuel Pellegrini has to tackle in his first season at the club, however, there is no reason why a FA cup run can’t take place this campaign.
But a first trophy since 1980, or at least an exciting run at one, with just two cup finals to enjoy since that FA Cup win, would get Pellegrini’s tenure up and running in fine fashion. For me 2006 has been the only cup final I’ve personally been to, and that didn’t go how I wanted, but I tell you, to this day, that is and was one of the best matches I’ve had the pleasure of watching West Ham perform in. Another cup final is well overdue for a club like ours. And next time, I want us to get the win!