Sport Soccer

Saturday 10 December 2016

Gold ready to rock the boat

Published 19/06/2015 | 12:01

West Ham co-chairman David Gold has the club's sights set high following their switch to the Olympic Stadium in 2016
West Ham co-chairman David Gold has the club's sights set high following their switch to the Olympic Stadium in 2016

Co-chairman David Gold has no doubt West Ham will be in a position to frighten the Barclays Premier League's leading clubs once they are playing at a packed out Olympic Stadium.

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The Irons on Friday launched a new commemorative strip ahead of their final season at the Boleyn Ground before switching to Stratford.

With a capacity of some 54,000 from 2016-17, the Irons will see their match-day revenue dramatically increase, therefore putting the east London club among the top flight's leading earners.

Gold believes that once ticket sales begin to have an impact on the field West Ham can become a force to be reckoned with.

"We are hoping West Ham will be in a position very soon to worry the top five and have them saying: 'Who are these upstarts? Who do they think they are?'" he said in an interview with BBC Sport.

"As far as challenging these great clubs, it is very, very hard. Southampton challenged last season, and there is absolutely no reason why West Ham can't emulate them.

"There is a big difference between realism and hope. Realistically, in the next five years we would expect to be knocking on the door of Europe, whether that is by finishing seventh or eighth or by winning the FA Cup or reaching the final.

"The longer-term aim is we want to frighten the big boys of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. We want the big five to be looking over their shoulders."

With an increase of some extra 20,000 or so seats from their current capacity at Upton Park, West Ham will also aim to attract a new legion of fans, while also appealing to London tourists.

Gold added: "Obviously, attendances have a lot to do with performances on the field, but taking all things into account we are optimistic of filling the stadium, 99 per cent of the time.

"Every time we get an update on ticket sales, they are the best we have experienced. All the targets we have set ourselves are being met."

West Ham replaced manager Sam Allardyce with Slaven Bilic this summer, and Gold has no fears the appointment was a risk.

"He doesn't have experience as a Premier League manager, but he does as a player," he added of the 46-year-old Croatian, who enjoyed a spell at Upton Park as a defender in the 1996-97 campaign.

"What he will lack in years of experience, he will make up for with youthful dynamism.

"He interviewed well, and last week we went to the Olympic Stadium, spent half a day with him and it was a good feeling.

"I like the way you can have chemistry between people. He is a relatively young man with drive and desire.

"I think we are going to see attacking football. With the players we have, and others coming in, we will have a natural attacking bias in our squad."

The Irons have already signed Spain Under-21 midfielder Pedro Obiang and hope to keep both Alex Song and Carl Jenkinson at the club following successful loan spells last season, while they are also being linked with Marseille's £12million-rated winger Dimitri Payet.

Forward Andy Carroll, meanwhile, aims to be back in contention for the Europa League qualifying campaign next month following his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

Press Association

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