Hurst just the first as Hammers mount Stadium election campaign
11:40 13 September 2012
PA Archive/Press Association Images
Sir Geoff Hurst has thrown his weight behind West Ham’s bid to become the tenants at the Olympic Stadium
The Paralympic cauldron may still be smouldering, but West Ham have taken no time in launching their own election campaign as they look to strike gold at the Olympic Stadium.
And who better to throw their support behind the Hammers as they look to become the main tenants at the stadium than West Ham and England legend Sir Geoff Hurst.
Hurst epitomises all the traditions of Upton Park and West Ham and so for the England World Cup hat-trick hero to throw his influence behind the club’s move to Stratford is one that many fans will consider significant.
“I’m 1,000 per cent in favour of the move,” said Hurst, who was at Upton Park from 1960 to 1972, making 502 appearances and scoring a staggering 252 goals.
“Nobody’s got a greater feeling about West Ham United at Upton Park than I have.
“I’ve rolled the pitch, painted the stands there and I have a great attachment to the club, but we have to move on.”
With the decision expected next month, West Ham are upping their campaigning as they look to overcome rival bids from Leyton Orient, Intelligent Transport Services who are working with Formula One, as well as the mysterious UFCB College of Football Business, currently based in Burnley.
Opinion on whether the move is a good thing has been divided, but the former Hammers striker has no doubts.
“We want to move on, we want to be in a bigger stadium with more access, we want to be a top Premiership club,” said Hurst.
“I strongly feel and I hope I can convince all the West Ham fans that I meet, that is where we’ve got to go.
“It’s still in our manor, to use an old east London expression, it’s up the road, it’s better access, it’s an absolutely magnificent stadium.”
Hurst’s comments are the latest attempt by the Hammers’ hierarchy to win over the hearts and minds of West Ham fans who are opposed to the move.
They are confident that they are the only viable bidder to be principal user of the £535 million arena and their offer, believed to be in the region of £10m a year in rent, is not only likely to give them the nod when the decision is made,but also the bargaining tools to have the stadium adapted the way they want.
But it is the fans that they think still need some convincing and this is just part of the charm offensive.
They have already won the bid once, only to be scuppered by legal challenges from both Spurs and Leyton Orient. This time they are not taking any chances.
One thing is for sure, the Olympic Park Legacy Company, Mayor Boris Johnson and the government will be determined to make sure that the Stadium remains an iconic structure.
That flies in the face of Tottenham’s plan to demolish the stadium and start all over again as Lord Coe mentioned in his speech at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
“The Spurs bulldozers moving in would have produced a mystifying set of images.
“It’s perfectly within the wisdom of all of us to make a multi-purpose sporting arena work.”
West Ham will be hoping that too and that they will be at its heart.
Expect more celebrity endorsements soon!