West Ham co-chairman David Gold hopes the Olympic Stadium’s proximity to Westfield shopping centre will attract more female fans to the club’s games.
West Ham will move into the Olympic Stadium at the start of next season, a move the majority of the club’s supporters were initially against.
Gold believes opinion has changed, though, and is hopeful that the relocation could even help attract new fans.
“The fans were absolutely against, 80 per cent were totally against it, including me to some extent. I’m thinking, ‘I don’t want to leave my beloved Upton Park, it’s where my earliest memories are of bunking in to West Ham when no-one was looking, at seven-years-of-age. Karren Brady actually wants me to pay for those tickets.’
“Slowly but surely, over the last two, two-and-a-half-years, we’ve won those fans over, with promising to make the stadium like the home of West Ham,” Gold told the Leaders Sport Business Summit 2015.
“It was very important for the fans, it was important they knew it was their home and not a rented facility. They were worried about the running tracking — a running track around football stadium doesn’t work — but we’ve got retractable seating in.
“We are right on the edge of a shopping centre so we are very hopeful that that’s going to increase the female fan base.
“Particularly as we go to the new stadium we are expecting our female fan base to increase. It’s also the quality of the experience of coming to a football match. In years gone by it was young males coming having spent a couple of hours in a local pub.
“It is very much changing, the experience we are delivering. That is changing what we are delivering particularly from my experience in the Premier League.
“Every club is looking to improve the experience for the family coming to the match, coming for other reasons. not it is not just arriving two minutes before kick off but arriving at the stadium.”
Gold also claims West Ham were set to buy the stadium outright before Tottenham and Leyton Orient complained.
“It was a difficult process as a lot of people are aware of,” Gold said. “When it became available it became available for sale, the idea was with Newham Council we were going to purchase it, we won that bid.
“But because the government wanted to guarantee the stadium for the Rugby World Cup and some athletics, because there were issues raised by other football clubs, Tottenham Hotspur and of course Barry Hearn from Leyton Orient, the government had to renege on a sale deal and pursue a lease deal.”