David Gold happy to be proved right over West Ham fanbase
Published 09/05/2016 | 11:16
Owner David Gold was confident West Ham had the fanbase to fill the Olympic Stadium on a weekly basis and he has been proved right after it was revealed the club have sold over 50,000 season tickets.
The Hammers announced on Monday that all season passes and VIP Club London memberships at their new home have now sold out.
That will be second only to Manchester United's 55,000 in the Barclays Premier League, and Gold could not be more pleased.
He told Sky Sports News: "At the beginning of this process people were saying '35,000 West Ham fans in a 55,000-seater stadium, how can that be right?' Well we were optimistic that the fanbase was strong and it's been proven that it's true.
"They always filled this stadium and you can't get 50,000 fans in a 35,000-seater stadium, but once that facility was available the fans came in their numbers and not only have we sold out all of our season tickets, over 50,000, but we've got 10-20,000 fans on a waiting list.
"So they are there, they are anxious to support their football club.
"Our promise to deliver affordable Premiership football has been achieved because we've got the lowest season ticket at £285 a season. We've got children at £99, so not only are we delivering the numbers, we're also delivering affordable football."
Ahead of West Ham's final home game at the 35,000-seater Boleyn Ground against Manchester United on Tuesday night, club vice-chairman Karren Brady added: "David Sullivan, David Gold and I have always believed in the West Ham fanbase and knew we could fill the new stadium.
"Reports consistently show that we have the highest average (attendance in relation to) capacity in the Premier League and every game in our final season at the Boleyn Ground sold out within days of going on sale.
"So having made the bold decision to move to the former Olympic Stadium, we are delighted to see how it has captured the imagination of the Hammers fanbase. We find ourselves going into our first season with more than 50,000 season ticket holders and tens of thousands of people on the priority list for seasonal seats in 2017-18."
The Hammers' move into the stadium built for the London 2012 Olympics has caused considerable controversy, with many rival clubs believing they have benefited unfairly from a facility built with public money.
Last month, it was revealed the Irons, who are adding 6,000 more seats to their new home to increase the capacity to 60,000, will pay just £2.5million a season in rent on the stadium, with the London Legacy Development Corporation responsible for running costs.
West Ham said on the club's website: "Today's announcement practically guarantees that the new stadium will be sold out for every Premier League game next season, meaning an extra 1.5 million people will visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park each year - generating millions of pounds of extra revenue for the taxpayer in the process."
Meanwhile, Gold is confident the club will play a part in a "new period in the history of the Premier League" when they move into the Olympic Park.
Although their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are now over, they could still secure a Europa League place at the end of what has been an impressive campaign under boss Slaven Bilic.
Asked if the Hammers could follow in Leicester's footsteps and challenge for the title next season, Gold said: "It has opened the door.
"It has caused the big clubs, and I thought this at the beginning of the season, to start looking over their shoulders saying 'Wow, who's this Leicester City, who's this West Ham right behind us? What are they doing there? They are not supposed to be there.
"Well we are there, and we are challenging. I think the future of the Premier League will be much more open than in the past.
"Look at Chelsea, they've not done very well this season. Manchester United struggling to get into the top four, this is a new period in the history of the Premier League."