Brady; We can convince West Ham fans of our Olympic Stadium vision
16:01 04 April 2012
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady understands why some fans are against a move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium, but insists the club will be able to convince them of the move
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady is convinced that the huge majority of fans would be in favour of a move to the Olympic Stadium if they could all see the ‘vision’ they have to convert the Stratford arena into their new home.
Speaking at a special luncheon at Upton Park on Tuesday, Brady confirmed the club’s renewed bid to be the tenants at the £535 million stadium, to turn it into a ‘home for our fans’ and hoped that the West Ham supporters would come on board.
“I can’t blame the fans to be honest, because they can’t see what we can see,” admitted Brady.
“We do have a fantastic supporters’ advisory board set up that brings together the various different mixes of our season ticket holders who have been coming here for generations.
“We brought them all together, they all had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and we gave them a presentation and showed them our vision and said this is what we want.
“There was a vote of the entire people that turned out and they were overwhelmingly in favour of the move.
“But we can’t explain that to all of our supporters yet, we can only explain it to a select few, who we think give us a very broad range.”
West Ham are restricted by stringent confidentiality agreements with the OPLC concerning the details of their bid.
But their insistence that the stadium must be ‘a world-class football stadium’ hints that they are likely to insist on retractable seating over the running track that will remain a fixture at the arena after the Olympics.
The club are determined that there will be no slip-ups in the process this time round.
“The way the process has been run, you can’t bully them,” said Brady. “You can’t bully the government.
“They are not going to be strong-armed into making decisions with threats of judicial review.
“I think they will sit back and they will say that the important thing for them is usage, community, jobs and their revenue and I think we can tick all those boxes.”
Brady admitted that the club finances are still not good, but that if they do not get the nod for the new stadium, then they would still look to grow and consider all the options including developing Upton Park as best they can.
“We inherited £100m worth of debt and then we were relegated, so finances are not great,” said the vice-chairman.
“On paper it is not great, although in my first year here we made a trading profit for the first since anyone can remember.
“If we don’t move there, then we stay at Upton Park and we redevelop and look for ways to improve here because a capacity of 35,000 is just not enough.”
West Ham do seem to be in a good position. There are three other bidders, with concert organisers Live Nation said to be one of them, though the only confirmed one is a joint bid by the University of East London and Essex County Cricket Club.
The Hammers will have to ask permission to move from either the Football League or the Premier League, depending on what division they are in at the time, though having already been granted the go-ahead by the Premier League the previous time, they will be confident of a decision going their way.
“If you take one step back and look at it,” reflected Brady. “It is a massive stadium, 60,000 seats in east London. Who else could use it, or would want to use it?”
The West Ham owners clearly feel that this is the chance to turn the club into one of the big players in British football and they are convinced that it will be the best move.
“Someone said the other day that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I said, no, it is a second in a lifetime opportunity,” said the vice-chairman.
True, and Brady and the rest of the West Ham board are praying that everything goes through smoothly this time when the successful bidder is announced in late May.