IN THEIR first press conference as majority owners of West Ham on 18 January last year, David Gold and David Sullivan made clear their ambition to move the club into the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games.
They knew it had the potential to catapult the debt-laden East End club into the big league; to vastly increase revenues at a fraction of the price it would cost to build a gleaming new venue from scratch.
Now they hold the keys to the £530m venue, and it shouldn’t hurt Gold and Sullivan’s bank balances too much either.
According to City analysts, West Ham’s successful pitch for the stadium has doubled the club’s value overnight – and that is before the Games have taken place, let alone work begun on its £95m conversion.
The Hammers plan to move in for the 2014-15 season, by which time it is expected the move will have swelled the club’s price tag to around £300m. If they sold up, Gold and Sullivan would trouser a combined £180m – of which £120m would be profit.
The pair (below), who made £27.5m each when they sold Birmingham City in 2009 and ploughed the money into buying a majority stake in their boyhood team, say they do not intend to sell and will be at West Ham “for generations”.
That may well remain the case, but a brand new stadium – especially one situated so close to the hospitality and sponsorship hotspots of the City and Canary Wharf – can suddenly attract wealthy would-be buyers. Manchester City has been sold twice since moving to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.
The chief threat to West Ham’s value, however, is relegation. The Hammers are one point off the bottom; dropping out of the Premier League would slash annual broadcast revenues and make their shiny new home a significantly less glamorous place to visit.