West Ham United will continue to play their home games in front of only 57,000 fans after they were prevented from extending their stadium’s capacity to the maximum 60,000, reports the Daily Mail.
The London Stadium, which West Ham moved into at the beginning of the 2016/17 season, is built to seat 60,000, but due to issues with standing fans, the London Stadium Safety Advisory Group (LSSAG) and Newham Council have refused to extend the seating to 60,000.
It has been revealed that too many fans have been standing for long periods during the game, and since the stadium is designed for sitting fans, the extension has been blocked.
A club statement said “persistent standing has posed a significant problem to many supporters, particularly young and disabled ticket holders”
“We respect the decision of LSSAG and Newham Council and will work closely with them, and with our supporters, so that we are able to reach a 60,000 capacity in the coming weeks.”
It has been reported that LSSAG will continue to monitor standing at West Ham games, and will not allow the seating extension until it meets a reasonable level.
It is disappointing for West Ham not to be able to reach their full 60,000 capacity, and although 57,000 is still a vast improvement on the 35,000 seater Boleyn Ground, this will further the case that moving from the old ground will negatively affect the atmosphere at home games.
With fans being discouraged from getting out of their seats, surely the electric atmosphere that was common at the Boleyn Ground will be impossible to recreate in the London Stadium.
Although it is right to prioritise the safety and enjoyment of the fans, it’s a shame that moving to what is in theory a bigger and better stadium may not actually have a positive effect on the fans or the atmosphere at a game. An atmosphere that a team with a history like the Hammers’ are crying out for.