These are exciting times for West Ham United. Not only is the current crop playing with a new-found gusto, not only are they eyeing up a potential European finish in the Premier League but beyond this encapsulating campaign—regardless of what it may or may not eventually yield—those who blow bubbles at Upton Park should feel as though they’re on the cusp of something stirring.
Next season will be the club’s final one at the enervating Boleyn Ground and while there will be tears in the eyes of those donning the famous claret and blue when the curtain comes down at this famous old venue, the club is readying itself for an emphatic thrust into the modern era.
That will become apparent in earnest when they take to the field for the first time at the Olympic Stadium in East London. Detractors have jibed they’ll never fill it, others will point to another bowl design ground in the Premier League that’s without character or tradition, but for the football club that will be calling it home, there is plenty to look forward to.
By securing what will be the third largest stadium in the Premier League, the club will propel themselves to the forefront of English football. The backdrop of the Olympic Park, the seamless transport links to it and the wealth prevalent in that area of the capital—Canary Wharf is just a 15 minute drive away—will make the club a much more attractive proposition to all, especially investors.
Just look at Manchester City. They too moved into a stadium left over from a major tournament (the Commonwealth Games) and although they technically remain tenants of the stadium—it’s still owned by Manchester City Council—that did little to prevent the Abu Dhabi United Group purchasing the club; the subsequent strides made by the reigning champions and replenishment of the East Manchester area is there for all to see.
While this move may not prompt an acquisition of comparable proportions—although both David Gold and David Sullivan have admitted they’d be willing to sell shares—it’s inevitable that money will come in for the Hammers. And that’ll only seek to enhance their performance on the pitch and their gravitas in pursuit of high quality players.
Tottenham Hotspur famously vied with West Ham for the tenancy of the Olympic Stadium amidst plenty of backlash from the supporters. It’s understandable that those who frequent White Hart Lane were furious about the prospect of leaving N17, but with Spurs still struggling to purchase all the requisite land to get their ground re-development underway—one local business is refusing to relocate—the Hammers could well overtake them in the coming years.
Indeed, Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly looking at a potential ground share with MK Dons during the 2017/18 season while work gets carried out, per the Mail Online.
Those factors will only make the Hammers—who will fancy their chances of rivalling Spurs in all facets once the ground move goes ahead—more attractive a proposition and although these supporters have erred on the side of caution in recent seasons, they and everybody else at the club should prime themselves for a shift in mentality.
It seems as though everything is in place for West Ham to go on an establish themselves as one of the elite team in the Premier League. In fact, even before the planned move to Stratford goes ahead, the club announced record revenue in 2013/14 despite a lowly 13th place finish in the Premier League, per the Swiss Ramble.
While long-term, the future is looking undeniably rosy, it’ll be intriguing to see the direction that the club pushes in for the remainder of this season and indeed the campaign prior to their move to the Olympic Stadium.
With an impeccable record for keeping teams in the Premier League—something that is imperative as the club get set for a new home—Sam Allardyce will surely remain in charge for the remaining days of the Upton Park era.
But what about when they officially become tenants of the Olympic Stadium? Will the club swoop for a boss with a bit more panache about his duties? Someone who will play an effervescent brand of attacking football to further expedite West Ham’s surge towards being one of the league’s most attractive teams? Much, you suspect, depends on their development under the current man.
Allardyce has shown encouraging signs in that respect. Although the vibrancy that oozed from their performances earlier in the season has seeped away somewhat as of late, the manager has shown a willingness to adapt his mantras as the club moves towards a cornerstone period in their history.
The foundations are in place for West Ham and according to Karren Brady, there’s already “a strategy to deliver sell-out crowds” at what will be a 54,000-seat stadium. As with any side, that will ultimately depend on how things fare on the field, but you suspect there’ll be plenty of a claret and blue persuasion who are keen on seeing this grand old club’s ascension begin in earnest.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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