Kevin Nolan hopes Olympic Stadium move will see West Ham join 'the big boys'

The east London club will become the tenants of the Stratford based stadium

West Ham captain Kevin Nolan believes the club's move to the Olympic Stadium could help them join the Barclays Premier League elite.

The Hammers were today handed the keys for the Olympic Stadium after a deal for the London 2012 centrepiece was finally agreed, with the club set to move in ahead of the 2016/17 season.

Nolan, 30, is completely behind the move from West Ham's current Upton Park home and reckons it will give the Hammers the best chance of challenging the established Premier League giants.

"You can see that this is a club that has always had the up-and-downs because they haven't been able to splash the cash," he told Press Association Sport.

"They haven't had the stadium to create the revenue so I think this is the perfect opportunity to put this club in amongst the big boys and we have got to make sure now that we stabilise the club in the fact we make sure it is still a Premier League club and even fighting for European places by the time we move here."

The work required to turn the Olympic Stadium, the scene of memorable moments for the likes of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, into a multi-purpose venue suitable for Premier League football is to get underway as soon as possible.

Nolan has hailed the decision to have West Ham as the anchor tenants to halt a worrying trend of Olympic venues from previous games being left empty and falling into disrepair.

"You only have to look around the world to see some of the Olympic Stadiums and there is nothing in them," he said.

"They are all white elephants now and would we want to see that after a superb 2012 or do we want to see it packed every two weeks with what brings the excitement of football.

"The country is football-mad - this is going to bring everything together and it is exciting times, I'm delighted for Karren [Brady, West Ham vice-chairman] and the co-chairmen [David Sullivan and David Gold] because they have worked so hard on it and hopefully now we can work hard to make sure we give them what they deserve, and that is Premier League status and improving every year."

Former Newcastle midfielder Nolan signed for West Ham when they were seeking immediate promotion back to the Premier League and claimed talks of a prospective move to the iconic venue were on his mind even then and feels the club's fans should be fully behind the decision.

"When I walked into this football club a year ago there was a mention of the Olympic Park being our stadium and it was a massive draw to me, just thinking that at one point I could maybe lead the team out.

"I was quite surprised when people asked if we were worried what the fans' reaction to the move will be.

"It can only be positive. This is a massive move but we are still in the East End and in the heart of everything that West Ham is about.

"But most of all it is going to put us in with the top end of the Premier League and even Europe, with a 54,000-seater stadium which anyone can get to - it is state-of-the-art facilities plus all the transport around it, it is something to be proud of and it is a fantastic deal."

Former West Ham and England striker Sir Geoff Hurst was also keen to stress that the club needed to secure the move if they are to progress, but admitted they do need to keep true to their history.

Hurst joined West Ham as a youngster and spent 13 years in the first-team set up before moving to Stoke and is fully behind the move away from Upton Park.

"It is important to bring their history, nobody is as fond of the club as me and has as much history with them as I do," he said.

"History is important. Tradition is important. But there is no question that you have to move on and keep up with the times.

"In business if you stand still you are overtaken, this is a significant and very important move for the club.

"I'm absolutely adamant that this is the most important thing we will do in the next few years. I can't be anything other than positive."

PA

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