Populous’s 2012 Olympic Stadium, since converted into the new home for West Ham FC, is not fit for football, a stadium expert has said
Last week the club said it would ban more than 200 fans after violence erupted during West Ham’s home cup match with Chelsea.
And now former Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher, who advised on the original planning of the stadium and has advised on more than 30 new grounds, says the arena is not fit to host football and should be demolished and rebuilt.
He told The Mail on Sunday: ’This is what happens when politicians and bureaucrats get involved in professional sport. Instead of leaving West Ham a thoroughbred stadium, the legacy is that they have been left a donkey.
’The only way to get it right is to knock it down and rebuild it. There is no magic wand.’
Fletcher, a former professional footballer, later became a stadium expert and has worked in a number of commercial roles, overseeing development projects for Bolton Wanderers, Huddersfield Town and Coventry City.
He is also managing director of University & College of Football Business, which, along with West Ham, was one of four bidders to move to the Olympic Stadium.
According to the newspaper, another anonymous source ‘close to’ stadium owner London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), also identified problems with the ground’s design.
He told the paper: ‘The stadium is so poor in football terms, it breeds poor behaviour. The stadium is fundamentally problematic and like a battleground for fans both inside and outside.’
The source also criticised sight lines from the stands, along with the wide open spaces outside the venue, which he said create segregation issues.
London Stadium Safety Advisory Group, a group consisting of West Ham FC, LLDC and other public bodies including the police, will discuss the problems at its next meeting.
West Ham stadium crop
In a statement, the group said: ‘The stadium’s safety certificate was granted after all safety plans were agreed before the start of the season.
‘The extensive security and safety operation implemented by all partners was robust. Therefore there are no plans to review the safety certificate or to reduce the stadium capacity.’
It said it would continue to monitor safety and security and would advise partners to take further action where necessary.
The Populous conversion caused controversy after its cost ballooned to £701 million.
The stadium’s original running track was retained, and retractable seating included.
A reconfigured roof is now the largest cantilevered roof in the world at 45,000m² and 84m wide at its furthest point.
Populous declined to comment on the story.