Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

Gold: Hammers 'close' to stadium deal

West Ham could be playing their home games in the Olympic Stadium from 2016
West Ham could be playing their home games in the Olympic Stadium from 2016

West Ham could be days away from agreeing a move to the Olympic Stadium, according to co-chairman David Gold.

The Hammers' long wait to secure a move to the £429million venue has reportedly moved closer this month following talks with the the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). London Mayor Boris Johnson described those discussions as "positive" and Gold has revealed an agreement could be secured as early as March 16.

"I think we're close. It's only what I'm being promised. As we speak I'm being promised March 16," Gold told talkSPORT. "We would sign the agreement then."

The 76-year-old stressed that date was not set in stone, though, after the potential agreement - that would see West Ham move to the stadium in 2016 - had suffered late glitches before.

"I'm embarrassed because I've tweeted 10 times that it's going to be next week or next month and here's a date," he said. "The date comes and goes and then I give another date. But I think we are close."

West Ham were handed 'preferred bidder' status in December and talks with the LLDC have since focused on details of the proposed move. One of the key points has centred on how much West Ham would pay towards conversion costs of the Stratford stadium.

Part of that conversion could see temporary seating erected for West Ham matches to cover the running track, with Gold saying a move would only go ahead if the stadium was "fit for use".

"There are certain things I can't share with you because of the confidentiality agreement. We will only go there if it is fit for use," he said. "I won't go there if I have to look over a running track. But I believe we are in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let's face it. They've built a stadium - albeit wrong shape and size."

Part of London's successful Olympic bid centred on a promise to keep athletics at the Stratford venue in the future. Gold believes, however, that for athletics to remain in the long term it requires a football club to help provide financial support.

"Most Olympic Stadiums have failed because they haven't embraced the legacy and also saying the Olympics is over," he said. "Athletics needs football to support it. There's no other way."

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