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Olympic disadvantage

There has been a lot of recent conjecture about season ticket renewals amongst Addicks. Since the return to The Valley the club has done an excellent job of marketing and pricing season tickets just right in encouraging supporters to commit up front to home games. Much of this loyalty and not insignificant financial undertaking has been due to the bond between fan and board, a bond that no longer exists. Ironically this is all against the backdrop of the best supporter bond between manager and player for many a year.

Last week a couple of news stories made me concerned about the future of our fan base. West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium was confirmed at significant cost to the local council and the taxpayer and not an awful lot to the club. For example I’d be surprised if the £2m a year in rent even covers the maintenance. Plus the sale of Upton Park will more than pay for the Hammers’ outlay of £15m. Gold and Sullivan are not at silly as they look.

The capacity of the stadium will be 54,000 by the time they move in ready for the 2016/17 season, this after an additional £25m is spent by the department of community and local government towards installing a new roof, retractable seats and permanent toilets and catering facilities.

The question I have is how they, West Ham, plan to fill the Olympic Stadium, which will be almost 20,000 larger than the Boleyn Ground.

It is true that pretty much the entire population of Essex call themselves West Ham fans and would help explain the relatively low crowds at Colchester, Southend, Dagenham & Redbridge and of course Leyton Orient. Obviously West Ham don’t get 1.3 million attendances (the population of Essex) and very few regulars come from the local area but they have consistently managed 30,000+ for many years, even last season in The Championship.

The majority of staunch Hammers’ fans that I know have become lapsed or infrequent visitors to Upton Park owing to children, finances or simply losing the habit, all part of a bigger problem professional clubs are presently facing.

West Ham, who have been a yo-yo club in recent history, hope the move will propel them to the upper end of the Premier League riches. Undoubtedly the 1966 World Cup winners will soon lose their much-vaunted community and local spirit as the days of the Chicken Run come to cessation, but if exploited well the Olympic Stadium will attract a whole new market to call upon.

The financial hub of Canary Wharf is close, linked by an excellent transport system. Gold & Sullivan have suggested up to 5,000 hospitality seats to attract a different type of spectator to what is already proven to be a splendid and iconic event experience.

Gold & Sullivan have also promised cheap tickets to families and school children. These of course may all come from outlying Essex towns and villages and the novelty value will encourage lapsed fans, but where else are these families and kids going to come from?

Well how about the traditional heartland of Gillingham Charlton in North Kent. The fast rail link to Stratford plus a ton of free parking makes the Olympic Stadium almost around the corner. The growth areas of the so called Thames Gateway North Kent, a regenerated Medway and further away in Ashford will be places, that trust me, West Ham will already be considering marketing heavily in. All this coinciding nicely with Addicks’ fans disgruntled with their board who have expelled anyone who previously masterminded it’s own reach into potential supporter bases further afield and that are not interested in connecting with it’s existing customers, let alone new ones.

West Ham’s new stadium could costly in more than just taxes to Charlton Athletic.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Johnny C #

    Your club could’ve bid for it! So stop bleating and remember we did you a favour when you had no ground!!!

    March 24, 2013
  2. Harry #

    I have lived in Gillingham now for 30 years and a season ticket holder at West Ham, which their are already quite a few that travel to games from this area. So you are talking about something that already exists.
    I also think you are very hypocritical !!
    Who runs coaches from the Medway towns to their homes games !!!!!!
    Please get a life

    March 24, 2013
  3. Jay #

    Not only that but I remember Charlton in the 90’s handing out leaflets outside the Gils stadium about coming down to see the Addicks and asking local teams in the Kent area to come and support Charlton. I mean I always wondered how Charlton made any money at games as it cost pence to go and see them, like £15 for travel and a match ticket.

    March 25, 2013
    • I think you’re deluding yourself if you think Charlton are the only club that market themselves to schools, groups and potential or lapsed fans in areas beyond their own postcode. Thankfully West Ham don’t just rely on fans from the Newham area.

      March 25, 2013
  4. I have written about this at some length on If a deal hadn’t been done with West Ham it would have cost the taxpayer even more. Remember also that LLDC will get the first £4m from naming rights each year. Arguably the stadium should have been configured differently in the first place to reduce conversion costs. West Ham are hoping to appeal to the substantial football tourist market – what makes the stadium even more attractive for that market is the largest shopping centre in the UK next door. And at least West Ham are in there rather than Spurs. As for Charlton, it’s a very competitive market in London football.

    March 25, 2013
  5. Northern Sold #

    I would just like to point out that the local council, Newham, borrowed £40m and have purchased a 35% share in the stadium. They will share the profits which will repay the loan. Newham council have not loaned the money to West Ham and they will actually earn money from their investment.

    March 25, 2013
  6. gerald adley #

    A very interesting article.Makes total sense.To balance things up a bit I am a very good friend of Alan Dickie who was a goalkeeper with West Ham in the early 1960’s.Mostly in the Football Combination team.He is a very loyal Charlton fan ans season ticket holder.Are this crowd in control at the Valley worse than the Glicksteins? A

    March 25, 2013
  7. At least we knew who the Glicksteins were and could see them in the stand at matches. Their problem was that they would never spend the money that would have boosted Charlton when we were doing well, e.g., more seated accommodation given that it was always sold out at 32.5p compared with 5p or 7.5p elsewhere. They also made us a selling club. I am grateful to whoever it is who is underwriting our substantial operating loss, but if I knew their name I could thank them.

    March 25, 2013
  8. See I’ve come in for a bit of stick from Hammers’ fans. This post wasn’t meant to be a veiled go at them, but more a warning sign to our board.

    March 25, 2013
  9. Gerry Adley #

    A thought provoking article. To balance it up. I am a good friend of Alan Dickie a former West Ham reserve team goalkeeper from the early 1960’s. He is a loyal Charlton fan and season ticket holder. Are the present crowd in control worse than the Gliksteins?Your stuff is in my must read box. All the very best Gerry Adley, Batavia, Illinois.

    March 25, 2013
  10. mike tricker #

    We havent Bought or been given a stadium we are renting it for a maximum of 30 days a year.

    The alteratuions are needed regardless of who uses it as it was designed soley as an athletics stadium and so unless altered is no good for concerts, other sports etc.

    West ham dont see any money for those dates.

    Doubt gold and sullivan will see much of the money from the old ground because its a condition of sale that we have to go in with zero debt which stands at 80 million. The ground sales is projected to make 70 million.

    There have always been charlton fans in your kent heartland as their are chelsea and arsenal fans all with as big a following as we will have with the new stadium.

    All in all not much in this article stands up under any investigation

    March 25, 2013
  11. KL #

    Well said CA! I could see that you were not having a dig at West Ham fans with an ounce of intelligence. The Charlton Board do need to make themselves “visible and heard” at this important time. Would love to hear how the season ticket renewals are progressing with barely 2 weeks to the deadline date! An indication of the proposed price after deasline day would be useful too.

    March 25, 2013
  12. SLC Addick #

    “The majority of staunch Hammers’ fans that I know have become lapsed or infrequent visitors to Upton Park owing to children, finances or simply losing the habit, all part of a bigger problem professional clubs are presently facing.”

    There is a selection bias here CA. Your friends and colleagues are presumably of a roughly similar age to yourself. What you describe is the inevitable attrition of support that coincides with the pressures of life. I imagine we are similar ages. You talk somewhere else about not flying in for the Brighton away game. Like you, I USED to fly a 10,000 mile round trip to see Charlton maybe three times a season. With pressures of work, family and finances I haven’t done it for a couple of years but importantly, I can’t face turning up to a home game knowing we will almost certainly lose. With respect, we are not the future of clubs like Charlton or West Ham, the youngsters are – and what is certain is that they need success to feed on success to hold their heads up at school, college or work or not on a Monday morning. I remember taking a couple of my sons to games 12-13 years ago and most times we went (avoid FA cup ties at all costs), we lost and they didn’t get the bug at the time and certainly don’t have it now. While investment from abroad is no guarantee of success, right now I’d very much like to try the experiment just in case it works.

    March 29, 2013
    • Very true SLC and you are correct in your presumption. However that is my point of the post that West Ham pose a greater threat to future Charlton supporters due to the Olympic Stadium move. I don’t believe that they were a consideration before in South East London/North and East Kent despite the closeness of the club as the crow flies.

      April 1, 2013

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