Tuesday 19th December 2017
When West Ham’s board of David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady announced that they would be moving the club from their Upton Park home to the London Stadium, it left many fans bemused and concerned. The club had enjoyed a great season under Slaven Bilic, where they had surpassed expectations on the pitch; and many felt the change could be detrimental to the club in the short term. The board insisted the move was the right decision, but has it been a blessing or a curse so far?
Obviously the move to a new stadium instantly offers the club something a lot more modern and with the times, as you would expect. The facilities are clearly going to be more up to date but the transition, for all of the positives that surrounded the move, has been largely a disaster. Everyone saw the fighting between supporters in the early stages, people have also complained that the pitch is too far away from the stands. The former athletics stadium have also been associated with issues of West Ham staff not being able to use the car park, financial miscalculations and mismanagement. There are even claims that fans located at the upper tier of the stand are not able to have access to toilets and catering services.
The final campaign at Upton Park, or The Boleyn Ground as others referred to it as, saw The Irons storm to a 7th placed finish. It was Bilic’s first season at the helm and what was even more extraordinary is the fact that they were only 4 points off of Manchester City, who finished in the final Champions League spot. Then West Ham upped sticks and headed to their new home at the London Stadium, and they looked a shadow of their former selves. They laboured to an 11th placed finish, with many blaming the move for their downturn in fortunes.
This season pretty much began the same way as the one prior, with West Ham loitering at the wrong end of the table. This led to huge pressure mounting on both Slaven Bilic and the West Ham board. The decision was made to axe Bilic, with David Moyes coming in as his replacement. There has certainly been an upturn in performances and results since Moyes arrived at the club. This has been reflected in reputable betting sites like Unibet, now holding the view that West Ham will not be relegated; and that clubs like Swansea City, West Brom and Newcastle are most likely to be back in the Championship at the end of the season.
In spite of this, there are still a lot of West Ham fans who are unhappy at the move to the London Stadium and how things have transpired. There is an argument to say that the stadium has been a curse in the sense that since moving there the form of the team dropped dramatically to where they have been involved at the wrong end of the table.
However, a more realistic approach, is to accept the transition was always going to be tough; especially as the stadium was built for athletics. For the sake of the club and its long term future in the Premier League, the move has to be seen as positive; and in time there should be plenty more improvements made to make it feel like home for West Ham fans. Furthermore, if performances on the pitch continue to improve under David Moyes, so will the atmosphere; and in so doing the London Stadium will become a huge blessing that ultimately, helped the club drive forward.