Are the Hammers getting ahead of themselves?
On Tuesday one of West Ham United’s co-owners, David Sullivan, was asked about the impending move from their historic Upton Park home to the Olympic Stadium.
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West Ham will move into their new 54,000 capacity venue — which was used for track and field events at London 2012 and could be expanded to 60,000 for soccer use — for the start of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign and Sullivan confirmed that the one item he would take from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium would be the famous iron gates… but they’re already going on show in the new team store.
Speaking to Sky Sports News as he and David Gold celebrated six years in charge at Upton Park on Tuesday, the ambitious owner also revealed West Ham — who currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League and are just four points off a UEFA Champions League spot — are thinking big for the future.
“I’m a great believer that you have to look forward. People who live their life in the past… the best times are ahead,” Sullivan said. “I believe the next five or 10 years will be the best the club has ever had. We really are on the verge of the big time.”
Now, Slaven Bilic has built a very good team — with Dmitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho leading the way — and has been backed heavily in the transfer market with the Hammers capable of finishing in the top six this season, but I’m assuming by the “big time” Sullivan means UEFA Champions League.
Is that achievable in the next decade for the east London club?
If they sell out every game, the revenue generated from having the fourth-largest stadium in the Premier League means they could compete to a certain degree, financially, with the traditional big boys. West Ham’s last major trophy was the FA Cup in 1980 and they have three FA Cups all-time to their name, with their highest-ever finish in the top flight third, back in 1985-86.
Co-owners and co-chairmen Sullivan and Gold, along with Karren Brady as vice-chairman, have done plenty of good for the Hammers since taking over in 2010 and have used their business connections and acumen to run the club wisely. However, being cautious may hold them in good stead, long-term. Capacity wise, West Ham will have the second largest stadium of the Premier League clubs in London until Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur revamp their homes in the next few years.
Let’s see if they can take advantage of that boost in revenue and support in the meantime to reach the so called “big time” they crave.
This Saturday the Hammers will get the chance to do the double over one of the title contenders, Manchester City, as they met at Upton Park (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) in an eagerly anticipated clash. They’ve already beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City away from home this season and Chelsea and Liverpool at home.