Karren Brady admits it is “an absolute necessity” that West Ham stay in the Premier League before relocating to “one of the greatest arenas in world football”.
The Hammers are moving to the Olympic Stadium for the start of next season and Brady said in West Ham’s annual report that the new venue will open up “enormous” commercial opportunities – which should see the Hammers close the financial gap on their rivals.
West Ham’s annual report revealed a profit after tax of just under £3million for the 2014/15 season. The annual accounts show West Ham’s turnover was £120.7million last season, up from £114.8million, while the wage bill rose £8.8million to £72.7million, 60 per cent of turnover.
Brady said there had been a “phenomenal demand” for corporate seats with only 200 of the 3,700 corporate seats in the 54,000-capacity stadium remaining unsold up until last month.
In the annual report written on October 9, Brady said: “Retention of our [Premier League] status in the 2015/16 season is an absolute necessity for the future well-being of the club, as we will be moving to our new home in the 2016/17 season and a new improved broadcast deal will be in place.
“The Olympic Stadium offers enormous commercial and brand opportunities and we have a strategy in place to deliver sell-out crowds and enter the stadium with a team that are befitting of such an amazing iconic venue.
“As plans take shape it becomes even more apparent that our new home will be one of the greatest arenas in world football and a platform to transform the future of our great club.”
She added: “We are very close to selling out our premium hospitality packages. The level of take-up has been phenomenal, despite the fact we are doubling our Upton Park capacity, and as I write there are only 200 seats available.”
Brady said the new roof, retractable seating and turnstiles had all been completed and the dressing rooms nearly finished.
The value of the Olympic Stadium move is underlined by the fact that West Ham’s match day revenue was only £20million last season – Manchester United and Arsenal both generate more than £100million while Tottenham, who are also moving stadium, still take around £40million at White Hart Lane.
The club’s overall gross debt is £89.1million with £49.2million owed to its shareholders David Sullivan and David Gold. The accounts say interest of 6-7 per cent will not be paid or added to the loans until the loans are repaid – the interest currently stands at £9.3million.
The Hammers appear in little danger of failing to be in the top flight next season – they are currently sixth in the Premier League under new manager Slaven Bilic.