Last game at Boleyn 2015?

When the talk about a move to the Olympic stadium started again after the G&S takeover I was a bit slow to catch on. Of course I knew the Davids would be interested in selling Upton Park and renting the Olympic stadium, but so were the Icelanders.

The pre-crunch antics of Sir Sebastian Coe, olympics minister Tessa Jowell and others had me fooled there for a while thinking that a “commitment to the International Olympic Committee” was actually important.

One may say that I failed to recognize the change in scenery laid down by the credit crunch.
In a BBC interview Sullivan points out the obvious that building a 80.000 seater just to use it for a few weeks and then tear most of it down to turn it into an athletic arena with a 25.000 capacity (that will be used for athletics a handful of times each year), must be downright waste of money .
However, what he chooses to disregard is the initial investment needed to turn it into a football ground as this is supposed to cost quite a lot more than transforming it to an athletics venue. That initial extra investment is, as I see it, the only real stumbling block in his quest to move the Club.
In a situation where the UK is pressured by the EU to speed up deficit cuts, every chance of reducing costs and increasing income will be very welcome. Talk of honoring a commitment will be wasted on governments facing a harsh financial reality, but if the initial investment or the long term stability and income will be the most important is still unclear. I guess it will depend on how the initial tab can be divided.

According to Telegraph, a West Ham spokesman said: "Our position is that we want to talk and see if a way forward can be found that can retain the athletics legacy and also allow us to make sure we get the most out of the stadium”.
Now that’s a scary thought. Keeping the tracks would mean taking away a substantial part of the match day experience. People arguing that this is insignificant as “the seats furthest away from the pitch is still closer to it than the ones at Wembley” are unlikely to be football fans and misses the point by a mile. But I don’t have to convince any Bubbleview reader about that. Still, I’m a bit worried that G&S thinks that the “customers” will turn up in enough numbers to fill the 55.000, or so, seats anyway and are willing to oblige to reach a compromise with the UKA (that are hoping to land the 2015 World Athletics Championship) just to finalize the deal.

The decision on who gets that 2015 athletics gig is to be decided in November, and the deadline (?) for the final (?) decision on the future use of the stadium is said to be December so if the UKA bid fails West Hams negotiating position is strengthened.
These deadlines also mean that we will see quite a few turns in this saga yet, but as things lay it looks to me as if the Boleyn Ground will stage its final football game in 2015.


Lucas said...

It seems a bit of an obsession for The Daves and, as you quite rightly point out, it is basically so that they can sell the Boleyn to pay off some of the debt that they talk about incessantly and rent the Olympic. However, we do therefore need to increase our active fan base by some considerable margin before moving to a 55,000 seater. Otherwise, we are going to not only have to sit miles away from the action, but for games against Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn etc, the stadium will potentially be only 70% full.
I was going to write that I wish they would stop obsessing over this and concentrate on staying in the Premier League but did not appreciate the deadline of December for such a decision so thanks for the info.

Joppe - said...

I still agree that the focus must be on staying up, however I'd rather they leave that to Zola and Clarke so I'm OK with them mulling over this. Also, this is the time to position themselves and the Club for the negotiations later this year.

On the attendance %, I agree there is a very real risk of playing to even less than 70% as that would still be a bigger crowd than Upton Park at capacity.
There are empty seats at the games you mention even today. To some extent this can be of course be calibrated with ticket pricing as is done today by dividing games into categories based on expected demand.

We also seem to take the current interest in English football for granted. We forget that it wasn't that long ago that there was a crisis in the attendance in England, and quite a few European clubs, in their respective highest league, struggle to get their ground even 50% full.
However, as the money made at the turnstiles is such a big part of most clubs revenue, having a big ground certainly helps to build a club.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it strange that the likes of Seb Coe and the Government can be so concerned about their so called legacy commitment, when goverment per se can renege on all commitments given to us the people. This is a case of double standards. Secondly so what if we do fall down on our promise to leave an athletics legacy there, what are the Olympic committee going to do: take the Games away from us: at this late stage who apart from Bejing could step in anyway! so that is another poor excuse.
It makes more sense to refurbish Crystal Palace which as National Sports Centre caters for so much more than just athletics anyway. The ONLY logical solution is to remove the track and turn it into a suitable football venue. This will be good for the club, good for the area, being close to Westfield and the new transport infrastructure and certainly better for residents around the Boleyn area who must dread matchday for the congestion.
The old ground although full of memories is poorly placed. Fingers crossed that the likes of Wales and Boris get their common sense approach across to high and mighty brigade.

Joppe - said...

The commitment, as many like it made during the good days, will "unfortunately" have to make way for a more realistic solution. I think that in the current circumstances IOK will be inclined to understand, as it won't affect the games as such.
If this makes economic sense, as I think it does, it will happen.