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Supporters reject running track plans

Filed: Friday, 21st May 2010
By: Staff Writer

Three in four West Ham supporters are opposed to moving to an Olympic Stadium with a running track, according to a KUMB.com poll.

The poll, conducted on the KUMB.com forums in the wake of the news that any move to the Stratford venue comes with the proviso that the stadium must include the 400m track, has seen the plans given an overwhelming thumbs-down by Hammers fans concerned about the considerable distance they will be from the action.

The Olympic Park Legacy Committee have published statistics revealing that the view for supporters in the new stadium will be worse than that at both Man City's Eastlands stadium and Arsenal's Ashburton Grove. Those sitting in the upper tier of either side stand at the OS will be situated 124m from the centre circle - whilst the same seats at Arsenal place you 97m away from the action (98m at Eastlands).

Fans would fare little better behind either goal, where the 2012 games upper tier will be positioned a whopping 153m from the centre circle - 18m further away that those seats at the 90,000 capacity Wembley stadium, and once again considerably further away than both the Emirates (120m) and Eastlands (91m).

Spot the ball - an artist's impression of the view from the back rows of the new OS

The major headache faced by David Sullivan and David Gold, whose very plans for purchasing the club were based on the move to the OS is that the 'bowl' shape of the stadium is not conducive for football, where the pitch is rectangular.

Temporary seats will be virtually impossible to place due to the lack of gradient available (ie most people would not be able to see over those immediately in front of them), although it has already been stated that no further work can be considered inside the bowl due to 'contaminated ground'.

One complaint many supporters have aired since the new West Stand was built at the turn of the century was that they are now some considerable distance from the pitch.

However that would be small-fry compared to the distance they would be from the playing field at the proposed new stadium.

All of which leaves Gold and Sullivan with a major headache, for it was only this week that they produced a ten-point pledge to supporters in which they insisted that their most important pledge was to listen to the view of supporters.

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by simon
08:23PM 29th May 2010
''Can't watch football with a running track in front of you. Three season tickets wont be renewed. Better off letting greyhounds run round it.''

by djspanna
09:37PM 26th May 2010
''Well I do agree to a degree but with the train connections it will really open up West Ham to so many more supporters. If there is any chance that we can move the running track and sink the pitch then it is a no brainer for the club.''

by Nigel
11:02AM 26th May 2010
''I am a season ticket holder (since 2000) and live in South Africa. I come over many times a season, at great expense. There is no way I would watch the Hammers from the other side of an athleics track - just too far away and no atmosphere. We need to carry out the original idea of redeveloping the East stand so that its capacity is increased and the spectators will then be closer to the pitch, as in the days before the West stand was redeveloped.''

by Steve Winch
07:26PM 25th May 2010
''West Ham have a hard core support of between 25,000 to 38,000. Even if it were possible to nudge the top line of 38,000 (results dependent) up to the lower 40,000s the atmosphere would be non-existent in a large stadium with a running track. With a lack of atmosphere, how long before the crowds start to dwindle nearer to 20,000?

Another thing to consider is the vast amount of supporters that arrive via The District Line from Essex. If results were like the season just passed I'm not so they would be prepared to bother going the extra few miles to Stratford to sit in a half empty stadium.''

by KitH
11:05AM 25th May 2010
''Being opposed to the move to the OS anyway, this is hardly convincing me further. We don't want Juventus at the Delle Alpi syndrome - get rid of the Boleyn Ground to get a stadium no one enjoys. Besides, with three of the four stands having been redeveloped in the last twenty odd years, what a waste it would be to just move now. Surely redevelopment or at the very least minor expansion of the East Stand would be preferable.

Being half German I also follow Bayern Munchen, and I can tell you that the fans there adore the new Allianz Arena because it doesn't have the horrible running track they had to endure at the otherwise magnificent Olympic Stadium. Even the best stadia don't work for football if there's a running track.

Besides, I just love Upton Park too much. Come on Gold and Sullivan, after thtreating Zola so terribly, do the right thing for once and listen to the fans.''

by Jim Daly
07:42AM 25th May 2010
''Having been a regular supporter since 1963 and a current season ticket holder, I'm disappointed to say that I would no longer attend live games if it meant watching from that far away from the pitch. I'm sure many supporters feel the same as I do thus making the move to a larger capacity stadium pointless.

Being that far away from the pitch would lose the atmosphere and sense of involvement, that I may as well become an armchair supporter and watch the games on TV.''

by Foged
07:34AM 24th May 2010
''No, no and no to the running track. You supporters should use all your power to work against a stadium with a running track.

I am a Danish Hammers fan and also supports our locally team - AGF. They are playing at a stadium with a running track. Dispite that we are number three in Denmark regarding supporters to home matches, the noise and support from the crowd is lousy due to the distance from the pitch.''

by George
04:28PM 23rd May 2010
''The professional game is a spectator sport. Mr Sullivan is on record as saying that a running track which distances the fans from the spectacle makes the move unacceptable. To consider such a move therefore with this fundamental problem is obviously wrong and compromises the proposition at the outset to such a degree as to see it ruled out now, so let's not waste any more time on it. Unless you can bring the fans next to the pitch, forget it. ''

by Matt Trottier
02:52PM 23rd May 2010
''We would need to be challenging for cups, Champions League etc - or what is the point in moving anywhere? ''

by Charlie in Busan
03:14AM 23rd May 2010
''As much as I did not want to move away from the Boleyn, I accepted that this was too good an opportunity to miss. I didn't think it through properly though and take this all into consideration.

This would be disastrous for West Ham. Taking the supporters so far from the pitch would change the very essence of the support we have at West Ham. Within a decade, the entire supporting culture of the club would be lost forever. I would go so far as to say, that if this really starts to move forward, we as supporters should be organising protests, the like of which we have not seen since the Bonds fiasco.


by Jord
12:27AM 23rd May 2010
''This information needs to be passed on to Gold and Sullivan as soon as possible. They said the most important aspect of the 10 point pledge is to listen to the fans, so make sure they get this information!''

by Benfleethammer
02:53PM 22nd May 2010
''I am a season ticket holder and the Boleyn Ground did have an immense atmosphere 20 years ago! Now very poor. Ground and surrounding area, train station, are all poor. I would love a move to OS.

Come on Davids - keep it up. We all need to move on and forget history.''

11:01AM 22nd May 2010
''I too would like to join the ranks of those who would rather redevelop the East stand. No way would I watch from the other side of a running track. Rather watch my football at the Den.''

by westhampaul
01:11AM 22nd May 2010
''Initially I was happy to consider the new stadium, but considering how far back it's gonna be from the pitch it's a thumbs down from me!

I visited Rome two years ago and took in Lazio v Siena, it wasn't a big match (more like West Ham v Burnley) so the ground was about a third full, poor atmosphere with a running track, so I too was miles away behind the goal. I guess the atmosphere would be better for the Rome derby though, but as West Ham fans I feel we need to bring back the chance to have fans sat as close to the pitch as possible. We want to intimidate the opposition just like we did back in the day!''

by david
12:35AM 22nd May 2010
''I went to the world cup in Korea and watched a couple of games in stadiums like this. It was awful. No atmosphere at all and the football was so far away you could never see where the ball was. It will be an absolute disaster for the club if we move there.''

by StevieB
10:54PM 21st May 2010
''What a relief to see that Hammers fans don't want this. Running track or no running track, it's the incorrect shape for footy and is a very bad footballing idea, its probably a very good business idea, but stuff that, rectangular is the new...er...rectangular.''

by tony oliver
10:25PM 21st May 2010
''Sullivan, Gold, Olympic Stadium - it's not about football. Maybe I'm cynical, it's all about money. Keep the Boleyn.''

by ray fielding
09:39PM 21st May 2010
''I won't want to watch players at 100 or so metres away from me, might as well watch on TV as at least youll be able to see close ups of the action. Hidden agenda - Gold and Sullivan only want to sell the Boleyn Ground to recoup their investment in the club. Love the atmosphere at the Boleyn Ground, won't be the same at the Olympic Stadium.''

by Dan Hughes
08:39PM 21st May 2010
''It would be nice to move to the OS but without the running track. Maybe they could build a running track at Upton Park for Lord Coe?

However it would be sad leaving Upton Park as it has so much history but our club has to move on and be more successful. ''

by Johnnyhammer
07:48PM 21st May 2010
''Simple. Running track = cancelled season ticket.''

by Niran Ade-Onojobi
04:16PM 21st May 2010
''The idea of moving to the Olympic Stadium sounds nice. However our priority is to build a highly successful team challenging for laurels, this will facilitate the need to move and attract fans to the new stadium which preferably should be without tracks.''

by ben
04:09PM 21st May 2010
''We should try to redevelop the Boleyn Ground, an extra 6,000 seats would be plenty. The Olympic Stadium will be another Millennium Dome. They should let Seb Coe move in to it (should just about get his head in).

It will be the worst ground in the country and I for one wont go if we end up there.''

by will earle
04:05PM 21st May 2010
''I always said I would love to see West Ham keep the Boleyn Ground and rebuild it. We have built the West stand, I think if we could get permission then we should try and rebuild the East stand. I know there are flats behind it but surely if we buy the land off the council then we should be able to build a new stand? I don't think we would fill out a new stadium anyway.''

by steven t
03:28PM 21st May 2010
''This would, after many years having a season ticket, make me call it a day.
To be that far away would be stupid and lose my interest in what's happening on the pitch that is so far away.''

by Ming the Merciless
03:24PM 21st May 2010
''This is disappointing news. I agree with G&S that this is a once in a lifetime oppertunity, I can't see how else we can generate the type of funds that will propel the club into the upper reaches of the league, but fans have to be able see the game and have a good atmosphere. ''

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