sit down and think
about how clubs perform when they move home into a new stadium. Ten years ago
Arsenal moved from Highbury to The Emirates stadium and proved that moving
grounds is not stress-free. West Ham themselves have just recently moved after
becoming the 32nd club to move homes in the last 28 years. London has
become a subject of great stadium innovation and plans on continuing this trend
with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and even Crystal Palace planning
and building new stadium developments.
Stadia within Britain in
the last century has often had adaptations for corporate capabilities and is
often criticised for facilitating the gentrification of Premier League
Football. A prime example of this being West Ham United. for West Ham
supporters something hasn’t been right about their stadium move so far. It
seems as though West Ham have lost, a sense of their identity as a club since
leaving Upton Park two seasons ago. Once the tenants of one of the most characterful
grounds in the game, now the Hammers call an enormous white elephant of a
And with the change of
stadia to the London stadium, so came a new badge and a new ethos. Has this
stadium change developed a new West Ham away from the east end.
David Sullivan and
David Gold the co-owners of West Ham snatched at the chance to increase their
ground capacity from 35,000 to 57,000 to compete with the likes of Arsenal,
Chelsea and now Tottenham.
With the new transition
not going as smoothly as liked. Fans at the London Stadium have been threatened
that if they do not sit down, they run the risk of loosing their season ticket.
Terry Hazlewood a
member of the East Ham working mans club and West Ham season ticket holder is
one of the many fans who blames Karen Brady and the board.
“At West Ham we’ve got a strong contingent of working class fans. Karen
Brady she’s trying to make us more like Arsenal. But we’re not like Arsenal.
When we moved into that stadium there was no discussion about the rules and how
different it would be. Those stewards will have to pick me up and carry me out
if they want me to sit down. And if they do you’ll never see me over there
Some West Ham fans
even thought that their move would leave them with one of the best Stadiums in
the country and even the world.
Time has not been sympathetic
to that brave statement. As West Hams relocation has been troublesome.
Of course West Ham aren’t
alone in seeking pastures new. Tottenham themselves are playing their home
games at Wembley this season While White Hart Lane is rebuilt from scratch in
time for next summer. Identity will also be a concern for spurs as they move
into their new home next season. They could find themselves in the same situation
as West Ham if they’re not careful.
Spurs have also seen a
rebranding of their badge before moving into their new stadia.
And then there’s Chelsea,
who are also exploring the option of playing an entire season of home games at
Wembley as Stamford Bridge is, just like White Hart Lane, being rebuilt and
expanded to a 60,000 capacity stadium. This seems to be the new trend in London,
with Arsenal setting the trend it seems other London clubs want to follow.
Once Chelsea have
moved back into a rebuilt Stamford Bridge estimated for 2023. Every club in
London will have built and moved homes within 17 years. So has London football started
to become driven by money and worldwide ambitions of the Premier League.
Whatever happens these four new stadiums will be colossal towards English
Every football ground
had its section for the die hard fans. West Ham had the chicken run where abuse
was just hurled at opposition fans for 90 minutes.
“That’s when it was
the best for me” says Hazlewood
“The football might
not have been what it is today, but there was passion there. You can’t do that
now, it’s nowhere near as intimidating as what it used to be. Sometimes the
players would even scream back at you and some were even scared to play on the
wing due to the threatening nature of the chicken run”
Switching over to West
London. Stamford Bridge had The Shed. Named after it’s corrugated roof. Before
their glory days this was where all the noise would come from although a
greyhound track round the outside of the pitch would affect the atmosphere in
Andrew Oman a Chelsea
fan since 1962 remembers the good old days on the terraces at the bridge.
“Most of us would get
to the game about 2:!5, by that time the atmosphere was already rocking. It was
a struggle to get to your seat. The banter was flying and the songs bellowed
out to, you couldn’t see much going on at the other end of the pitch but it didn’t
matter because you were distracted by songs we were singing.”
Fan recollections of
an era lost to English football, when the game was spectated by masses of young
adult men bouncing around and off each other, having paid extremely cheap entry
into the stadium.
With West Hams new
stadium move it has given them the chance to lower their season and match day
ticket prices. With the cheapest season ticket being available at £289 and the
highest at £1,250.
But that seems to be
just a paper over the crack for many Hammers supporters. With the ground
struggling to make the same match day atmosphere that Upton park could make.
Teams use to fear going to east London, now they will be rubbing their hands
together at the thought of playing on the green carpet they call the London
Stadium. Having been a deal that Gold and Sullivan seemed to good to be true
and it certainly is being proved that way so far.
For 2.5m a year Gold,
Sullivan and Karren Brady, won the bid to become the primary tenant of the
Olympic Stadium after beating Daniel Levy and Tottenham who’s plan was knock
the entire stadium down and rebuild it from scratch in a project that would’ve
cost over 300m. Leyton Orient threatened legal actions which led to the bidding
process being repeated but West Ham finally got decision in deal rounded up in
December of 2012.
Because of the running
track around the venue. Tickets that are located on the half way line are situated
20 metres away from the pitch. While the closest seats by the corner flag get
you 12 metres away and sitting high up in the stand has been a vocalised
problem from West Ham fans claiming that is hard to build an atmosphere.
After crowd trouble
throughout the 2016/17 season the stadium had offered up some bad PR and even safety
issues were having to be concentrated on. The growing anger of fans who felt
their season ticket was not in the right place, a project was undertook to reassign 6000 seats
West Ham have a 99
year tenancy in Stratford, but there is still a lack in a home feel. With historic
Upton Park having the iconic legendry towers at the front gates of the stadium
it was a very intemmidating place. Now during the summer the stadium plays host
to the Athletics and other concerts with the scattered claret and blue seats
being the only real reminder of who the primary tenants are.
West Ham will never be
allowed to host a boxing day fixture in the next 99 years due to Westfield
shopping centres block on football fans ruining it’s busiest trading day of the
Chelsea and Tottenham
it seems have learnt from West Hams mistakes. They can avoid all the
organisational problems the Hammers faced when taking on the Olympic stadium
whilst Arsenals move can also help aid planning.
Tottenham’s new multi-purpose
stadia will include a 17,000- seater single tier stand which will be the
biggest in the UK once constructed, larger than Liverpools Kop end. Spurs fans
wll be hoping to replicate atmospheres like Dortmunds Yellow wall and