West Ham fans deserve better than London Stadium, a toxic Olympic legacy that should be demolished
The former Olympic Stadium is not fit for West Ham supporters. The only reasonable solution is to rebuild it for football, writes Desmond Kane.
There are reports over the past week claiming the acclaimed filmmaker Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting fame, is ready to direct the 25th James Bond film in what is apparently Daniel Craig’s last portrayal of the British secret agent. It was Boyle who directed the famous cameo of Craig meeting the Queen before she jumped out of a chopper into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Games.
Perhaps he can do something similarly satisfying with the London Stadium in the new Bond movie. Like blowing it up in one of those trademark stunt scenes as Bond rescues the good guys James Collins and Mark Noble from their perilous situation.
West Ham fans. Eurosport
Seeing the London Stadium reduced to rubble would not be the worst outcome for West Ham diehards, whose anger with their surroundings and their club’s owners is already beyond boiling point judging by the nasty protests that ransacked their 3-0 drubbing by Burnley on Saturday afternoon.
They have every right to be furious after being forced to make the soulless trudge through a Stratford shopping mall to a 60,000-seater ground erected for athletics at an Olympic Games that was six years ago.
This ongoing calamity has left a toxic legacy.
This is a ground that was never built to house a Premier League club. No matter how beneficial it was to West Ham’s coffers in apparently stumping up only £2.5m a year in rent.
The co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have got it badly wrong whatever they argue. Football is about more than spotting a business opportunity. West Ham resembles a club that has lost its bearings. Such passionate feeling for part of your identity was always going to play out in the ugly scenes we witnessed over the weekend.
While nobody should condone violence or throwing coins especially with kids in the vicinity, the supporters have every right to demand answers about the stadium.
West Ham United captain Mark Noble on the pitch. Eurosport
The shiny new Premier League might be the world’s richest league, but it remains a massive part of communities at clubs like West Ham, whose well-being of its fans should be at the forefront of a board's thought process.
That umbilical cord between supporters and club has been cut in the move to Stratford. Rightly or wrong, that feeling of identity has been vandalised.
Somebody, somewhere should answer questions on how a stadium with a massive track around it, seats miles from the pitch and noise that evaporates into the sky, sucking the frisson from the football, was ever going to be right for West Ham, a club once famed for its atmosphere.
Chaos at West Ham.Eurosport
The London Stadium is celebrated because athletes like Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis won golds in 2012. But trying telling that to West Ham captain Noble as he was forced to wrestle one fan to the deck on Saturday. Or defender Collins, whose defensive duties involving manhandling another two pitch invaders.
The fans deserve to have their feelings soothed after being forced to abdicate their 112-year-old home at the Boleyn Ground. And more importantly what action is going to be taken to rectify this almighty mistake from departing Upton Park?
It is not the stewarding that merely needs an overhaul at the London Stadium, but the whole project itself.
It should be knocked to the ground and rebuilt as a football stadium as soon as possible. Juventus and Bayern Munich have left stadiums built for athletics for stadia suitable to host football. Sevilla and Real Betis opted out of a move to an athletics stadium in Seville because of such dangers.
Tottenham have flitted from their home to Wembley to build a bigger one at White Hart Lane. Yet Tottenham's idea to rebuild the Olympic Stadium after London 2012 was denied them because of the need to keep a running track that is hardly used.
You don’t leave a football stadium for one that was erected for athletics. No matter the price. If West Ham are relegated this season, the stadium will have played its miserable part in the team’s demise.
There is a chance West Ham will be forced to play a match behind closed doors as punishment for the latest pitch invasions and protests. It is hardly going to lessen the atmosphere.
But the problems will not disappear while West Ham are forced to pay homage to another sport, another era that has brought them to such a calamitous crossing.