Last week saw the introduction of the new A+ category seating at Upton Park for the 2013/2014 season and it has already met hefty opposition as prices could rise to £77 for an adult to go and watch West Ham play teams like Arsenal and Chelsea. But is this move a necessity for a club that wishes to be challenging on a continental scale within the decade?
David Gold has confirmed that we will be cheaper than our local rivals Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who are the sort of larger clubs that West Ham are looking to emulate.
As the cost of everything on our planet rises the prices of English Premier League tickets will certainly not be left behind, so West Ham are being forced to keep up. West Ham United is a business after all and in order for a business to succeed it is key to remain relevant to the market. Our owners will have no qualms about raising the ticket prices for a select few games because the Boleyn Ground rarely has an empty seat in it so you can guarantee that these seats will be filled also, whatever the price. The A+ games will not be every week and there will be many ‘kids for a quid’ games this year as well so West Ham is not alienating its family fans, it is simply avoiding its own alienation from its competitors.
Mid-August 2016 will see 11 claret and blue shirts run out onto the pitch at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for the first time, in front of 55000 fans. This will be a fantastic moment in the history of West Ham United, but will not instantly unlock the bank account of a Middle Eastern Sheikh even if we all wish it to do so – Man City spent 6 years at the City of Manchester Stadium before they were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group. Despite this fact, many West Ham fans expect a team containing superstars to be kicking off that match in 2016, leaving David Gold and David Sullivan three seasons to raise funds to make signings like the £15m move for Andy Carroll a regular occurrence. In order to do this they must raise prices and rely on the notoriously loyal West Ham fans to do them a favour of sorts and help them buy this team. The fans patience will no doubt be repaid when prices fall in order to fill the 55000 seater in three years and if everything goes to plan you will see a group of top quality footballers playing with irons on their chest in the 4th largest stadium in the country, for much less.
Considering all that is written above, amongst other things, it is saddening to witness the criticism and, in some cases, abuse that the owners of West Ham have received over the past few days since the A+ announcement. Since the purchase of the club in 2010, Gold and Sullivan have set to work on repaying the £120m debt the club was left in, using nothing but their own money. On top of this huge fee David Gold and Sullivan have also facilitated the fees and wages of over 35 first team transfers and loans, including the reshaping of the club upon Allardyce’s arrival that saw us back into the top flight. With the owners spending so much money and working so hard alongside Karren Brady to secure the bright future of the club in Stratford, it is almost unthinkable to question their commitment to the club. I believe West Ham fans can relax with the club in the hands of the two local boys who between them now own around 85% of our beloved club.
The category A+ seating is not a move of greed, it is a move of necessity and the West Ham fans can trust that this will only enhance the club while its under the observation of Gold and Sullivan.
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Come on you Irons!