Plan for 'people's club' in Olympic Stadium

  • @stevetongue

The West Ham United takeover could solve a problem for organisers of the London Olympics, desperate to find a use for the main stadium after the 2012 Games. David Sullivan yesterday indicated that the new owners are keen to explore the possibility of moving the club there after 106 years at the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park.

Relocating at the Stratford venue, barely three miles to the west, would also offer a further option to England's bid for the 2018 World Cup, which cannot confirm it as one of three London grounds until future use is known. West Ham have been linked with the Olympic Stadium before, in 2006 when the club's new Icelandic owners said they wanted to explore the same move, and Sullivan revived the prospect when he spoke enthusiastically about it on TalkSport.

"It's in the Borough of Newham [and] West Ham is in the Borough of Newham," he said "At the moment the plans for the stadium are that it will be ripped down and reduced in capacity to 25,000 to become a rugby stadium, which will no doubt be three-quarters empty.

In a credit-crunch it seems obscene to build an 80,000 capacity stadium and reduce it to 25,000. I cannot think of a worse waste of money. We would like it to remain an 80,000 seater because then we could become the people's football club. We could let old age pensioners in for £3, kids in for a pound. We would have the capacity to make Premier League football available to all people whatever their income and wealth."

Sullivan will still face problems at the other end of the spectrum. Even a "People's Club" need extensive corporate hospitality and executive boxes, which the Olympic Stadium lacks. Then there is the whole question of the athletics track, which no football club really wants. "Legacy" being one of the buzzwords of any modern Olympics, and World Cup, Lord Coe, the chairman of the organising committee, has had to pledge an athletics legacy to the IOC and London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, is also on record as wanting the same thing.