West Ham 'close' to reaching Olympic Stadium agreement
Co-chairman David Gold says Hammers could be days away from agreement
Monday 04 March 2013
West Ham could be days away from agreeing a move the Olympic Stadium, according to co-chairman David Gold.
The Hammers' long wait to secure a move to the £429million venue has reportedly moved closer this month following talks with the the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).
London Mayor Boris Johnson described those discussions as "positive" and Gold today revealed an agreement could by secured as early as March 16.
"I think we're close. It's only what I'm being promised. As we speak I'm being promised March 16," Gold told talkSPORT.
"We would sign the agreement then."
The 76-year-old stressed that date was not set in stone though after the potential agreement - that would see West Ham move to the stadium in 2016 - had suffered late glitches before.
"I'm embarrassed because I've tweeted 10 times that it's going to be next week or next month and here's a date," he said.
"The date comes and goes and then I give another date. But I think we are close."
West Ham were handed 'preferred bidder' status in December and talks with the LLDC have since focused on details of the proposed move.
One of the key points has centred on how much West Ham would pay towards conversion costs of the Stratford stadium.
Part of that conversion could see temporary seating erected for West Ham matches to cover the running track, with Gold saying a move would only go ahead if the stadium was "fit for use".
"There are certain things I can't share with you because of the confidentiality agreement. We will only go there if it is fit for use," he said.
"I won't go there if I have to look over a running track. But I believe we are in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let's face it. They've built a stadium - albeit wrong shape and size."
Part of London's successful Olympic bid centred on a promise to keep athletics at the Stratford venue in the future.
Gold believes, however, that for athletics to remain in the long term it requires a football club to help provide financial support.
"Most Olympic Stadiums have failed because they haven't embraced the legacy and also saying the Olympics is over," he said.
"Athletics needs football to support it. There's no other way."
The LLDC will discuss the future of the stadium at their next board meeting on March 26, although they can call an extraordinary general meeting if they reach an agreement with West Ham before then.
Any possible agreement will come as comforting news to organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, who need to know by the end of next month whether they will be able to use the stadium.
The Olympics Stadium is presently on a long list of 17 venues, with five to be cut before a final announcement in the coming weeks.
Gold was unable to confirm the future of boss Sam Allardyce beyond the end of the season, but admitted he expected him to remain.
Allardyce is due to meet the West Ham board to discuss a new deal, with his contract set to expire in the summer.
"What we promised and, what Sam promised us, is that at the end of the season we would sit down and discuss Sam's position," Gold said.
"I'm very optimistic that Sam will be our manager next season. But we have to sit down.
"The agreement with the board was that we would sit down at the end of the season, not when we're safe - we are not mathematically safe as we speak."
Asked if he was worried Allardyce could agree a move elsewhere before then, he added: "There's always the danger that a bigger club comes in. There is that danger.
"Having said that Sam has given his word that he will sit down and discuss his contract at the end of the season and I trust him."
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