Gillingham v Accrington preview
West Ham have been officially confirmed as new tenants for the
Olympic Stadium after a deal was finally agreed on Friday.
The 99-year lease was announced by the London Legacy Development
Corporation (LLDC) along with details of the revamped stadium.
The Stratford venue will be transformed into a 54,000-seater
stadium set to cost ?150m, and the Hammers are expected to move in
from August 2016.
Negotiations between the LLDC and West Ham have been long and
tortuous since the club was named the preferred bidder in December,
but with an agreement finally reached, West Ham have been given the
right to use the stadium for all their matches under a 99-year
deal, giving the club long-term security.
The deal will protect public interest should West Ham’s owners
sell the club for a large profit on the back of the move to the
stadium, with the LLDC guaranteed a significant cut.
The stadium itself will have retractable seats, allowing the
2017 World Athletics Championships to take place as planned.
In addition, the deal opens the way for the stadium to be used
as a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The plans for the future of West Ham’s current Upton Park home
and the surrounding area remain confidential.
West Ham joint-chairman David Gold said: “This is very exciting,
I’m thrilled that we’ve signed this deal today. There’s a new
exciting future for West Ham United FC.
“It will generate jobs when the stadium is renovated, then jobs
for the future ongoing.”
Joint-chairman David Sullivan added: “We really feel privileged
to be going into this stadium. We’ve had 13 sell-out games in a row
and we need a bigger stadium.
“We want football to be affordable for the working class man and
that’s why we want a bigger stadium.
“This is a win-win situation for London, for the legacy and for
West Ham United Football Club.”
London mayor Boris Johnson said: “This Olympic Stadium will now
be the home of a great London football club, that gave us Bobby
Moore, Geoff Hurst…
“The deal is great for West Ham, for London, for football. We’re
moving the seats, we’re moving the roof but we’re keeping London’s
great Olympic Stadium.”
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady added: “When you come to
this stadium at the start of 2016 it will look and feel like West
Ham’s ground. It will look and feel like a football stadium.”
Gillingham will hand late fitness tests to four players but Andy
Frampton definitely misses out as he starts a three-match
Midfielder Frampton saw red in the late stages of Tuesday’s 1-1
draw at Rochdale and now misses the next three games as the Gills
aim to consolidate their lead at the top of the table.
Chris Whelpdale was forced off midway through the first half at
Spotland and now faces a fitness battle, as does his replacement
Matters went from bad to worse in midweek as fellow midfielder
Bradley Dack was then substituted due to injury after the
Forward Myles Weston will also again be assessed having missed
the last five matches with an ankle problem, while Gillingham have
been unable to extend Michael Richardson’s loan spell and he has
now returned to Newcastle.
Accrington will be without top scorer Romauld Boco.
Boco is away on international duty with Benin for their World
Cup qualifier against Algeria, giving manager Leam Richardson a
place to fill in attack.
Padraig Amond is back in training following an abductor problem
and is hoping to earn a place on the bench.
Defender Nicky Hunt is definitely ruled out as he continues to
struggle with a hamstring injury.
In-form Lee Molyneux will start along with Francis Jeffers, who
scored his first goals in English football in over four years in
the 4-0 win against AFC Wimbledon.
Stanley are looking to record three consecutive league victories
for the first time since December 2011 but face a stern test
against Martin Allen’s table toppers.