Empty seats at Olympic Stadium will put off West Ham fans
PUBLISHED: 10:37 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 10:37 27 March 2013
West Ham fan Nigel Kahn believes there will be swathes of empty seats at the Olympic Stadium even if the Hammers can fill their 54,000 capacity
West Ham may well be celebrating after securing the anchor tenancy at the Olympic Stadium, but for some fans, a move away from Upton Park will never be acceptable.
One such supporter is Nigel Kahn who organised an online poll to gauge the opinions of fans and who as a member of the Supporters Advisory Board (SAB) is privy to the plans for the future in Stratford – he is not impressed by what he has seen.
“If there is a majority of people that are happy to go to the stadium then I can’t do anything about it, but we have to have all the facts out there,” said Kahn, who set up mywhufc.com to campaign for a proper consultation and a poll among fans for the move.
He is still after that, even after Friday’s decision and the club have promised that it will be independent and up and running in the next three or four weeks.
“I knew the decision was inevitable and in a way I’m pleased it has happened, so that now all fans can be included in the debate and not just the SAB,” said Kahn.
“I hope that once the planning permission is given and all the facts are revealed, we can have a proper debate. Then I would like a poll of all season-ticket holders and matchday attendees with a simple yes or no vote on whether we want to go.”
Kahn is completely against the move, but he thinks that many other fans will be put off too if they knew that there may be huge swathes of empty seats at the stadium at every home game. “If the club can prove that there are not going to be thousands of empty seats at the stadium on a matchday, or if the majority of fans are happy with being in a stadium with so many empty seats, then that is fine, but we need to have all the facts,” insisted Kahn.
“We have seen all the pictures of a future stadium that have been put out and fans will be really impressed by that and say ‘that is where we want to go’, but what I am saying is, is this a true representation of what the stadium will look like?”
Kahn knows he faces an almighty uphill battle to have his voice heard, but he is not giving up.
“You are always going to have people like me who are always going to say no,” he admitted. “I have been watching West Ham since 1977 and considering I am only 43 now, that is a big part of my life. The fact is that going down to Upton Park is all I’ve ever known since I was six or seven. I think at the moment there are around 55 per cent of people in favour, but what about the other 45 per cent who do not want to move?”
Kahn does accept that there are practical benefits to the move, though he would prefer the club developed the East Stand at Upton Park.
“I can see the business side of things and how it might benefit the club, but I will do whatever is necessary to try and stop this happening,” he insisted. “That is why I joined the SAB. You have to have a dialogue and work with the club in a way, but from the inside.
“There is no point in standing outside of things and banging a drum.”
At the moment, it seems that Kahn is simply banging that lone drum, but as we have heard at many football grounds, after a while that continuous drumming can become so annoying.