Talking Point

What is the future of Rush Green?

West Ham purchased their current training ground, Chadwell Heath in 1995, the story goes that a West Ham director was embarrassed by the poor conditions West Ham were training at the time which led the board to purchase and move to Chadwell Heath.Chadwell Heath is under 10 acres in size having two full size grass pitches & one all weather artificial pitch with flood lights. It also has a large indoor facility which resembles a large warehouse with various outbuildings.

There is an urban myth that the state of Chadwell Heath pitches are the cause of many of our players injuries and I understand West Ham carried out an investigation in the past to find out whether there was any truth in this. As if to prove the point West Ham released an article and pictures on last year about the Chadwell Heath pitches being dug up re-leveled with sand & re-seeded.

However the fact remains whatever the truth is on the pitches the site is too small with limited building facilities for the modern game.

In February 2009, West Ham entered into an option agreement to purchase the freehold interest in the 29 acre Rush Green Ford Sports Ground from the Ford Motor Company. In September the same year, they completed the acquisition of the property for a sum of £1.4 million.

The original plan was built a new state of the art training facility and in November 2009 West Ham submitted a planning permission application to Havering Council.

The Rush Green site is close to Romford and just two miles from our current facilities at Chadwell Heath.The training ground has a stadium pitch and three training pitches.

David Sullivan said of Rush Green when he officially opened the stadium last year:

“I wanted to come down here to see the facilities and what is happening here, I have to say they’re doing a wonderful job.Our reserves will be playing here next season so for anybody wishing to watch them it will be an easier trip than Bishops Stortford. We’re now located in our heartland of Romford and it’s a lovely little place. Hopefully this could become our new training ground one day”

The question remains when and if this training ground will ever be properly re-developed into a world class training facility worthy of our world class Academy. Our debt problems and getting the Olympic Stadium has been our number one priority but now the clock is finally ticking down to 2016 we need a training facility to rival our 54,000 Olympic stadium.

Just like 1955, we have been left behind by our London Premier league rivals and should feel embarrassed again.

Spurs built a new training centre at their 77 Acre Bulls Cross site at a net cost of £30m. They have 15 grass pitches across the site including four dedicated solely for First Team Training and one and a half artificial outdoor pitches with floodlighting. It also has a pool and hydrotherapy complex, altitude room, large-scale gymnasium and specialist sports rehabilitation suites

The Arsenal Training Centre covers an area of 143 acres with ten full-size pitches which was build in 1999.

Chelsea Cobham training centre in Surrey is based on a 140 acre site and houses all of the club’s football activities, from the first team to the academy, reserve and women’s teams. It features "the latest in training, rehabilitation, medical, pitch and media technology and includes 30 football pitches (three with undersoil heating and six to Premier League standard), an indoor artificial pitch, a media centre, a medical centre, gyms, cold immersion pools, a sauna, a steam room, a HydroWorx pool and a 56 ft hydrotherapy pool.

With our owners ambitions for the Olympic Stadium we also need similar ambitions for a new training facility to rival what Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal have already done. The question is whether Rush Green at 29 acres is big enough?

Maybe we should be looking for a 150 acre site in the Essex countryside and invest £31m to make it the best premier league training and academy facilities around London.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Hull City

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

Team: Jussi, Reid, Tomkins, O’Brien, Rat, Diame, Noble, Morrison, Nolan, Jarvis Maiga.
Subs: Adrian, Demel, Collins, Taylor, Downing, Vaz Te, Petric

Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Hull City

On paper this looks one of the easier games of the season, but it certainly won’t be. Hull have had a good start and their win at Newcastle last week, where they came from behind twice to win 3-2, will have boosted their confidence. So we’ll need to be at the top of our game.

There are two selection dilemmas for Sam Allardyce. Guy Demel is fit and in some ways ought to be an automatic pick for right back, but Joey O’Brien is in great form and it would be very hard to leave him out. He could return to left back in place of Rat, but Rat was bought for a reason and he needs to get games if he is to build up an understanding with Matt Jarvis. I’d keep Joey at right back and tell Guy Demel he’ll be back when his form matches O’Brien’s.

The other dilemma is whether to drop Maiga for Vaz Te or Petric. For me it’s a no brainer that Vaz Te should start, but I still expect to see Maiga’s name on the teamsheet.

We need to get something out of this game. That may be stating the bleeding obvious, but our season needs a kick start. Let’s see if Ravel Morrison can put in another inspirational performance and spur us on the a victory.

Talking Point

Safe Standing at the Olympic Stadium

Back in the eighties I stood week in, week out on the terraces of the old South Bank in the Boleyn Ground.

Now I stand in front of my seat in Sir Trevor Brooking Lower at every game like everyone else around me, and I have done so for many years.

However, I understand in other parts of the Boleyn Ground West Ham fans are asked to sit down or face eviction from the ground. In total it is estimated that 65,000 football fans stand in front of their seats every Saturday.

The law changed after the Taylor report stated that football clubs must have a seat for each fan that is admitted. It doesn’t say the fan must sit down in that seat. However, the football league rules say fans must sit down when matches are being played and clubs can eject any fan that doesn’t comply with this rule.

This is enforced differently from football club to club, ground to ground and in some cases, like West ham, it is different from stand to stand.

I think it is time for the Government and the FA together football clubs to take another look at these rules and the law.

We all remember the tragic circumstances and travesty at Hillsborough and why seating came in via the Taylor Report after this event.

I am not calling for a return of the old terraces but saying technology has moved on and it is time football fans had the choice to stand safety.

Personally I support the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) campaign for Safe Standing.

This is what West Ham management have said about safe standing in the past.

“We actually wish we could have fans like that back in England who stand up behind the goal and sing all the way through, fantastic atmosphere really enjoyed it.” Sam Allardyce after his West ham visited Dynamo Dresden.

“I am in favour of safe standing the key is in the title ’safe’” West Ham United Chairman David Gold on Twitter

“In this world the customer has the right to choose and if some fans would prefer to stand, fair enough.” West Ham United Vice Chairman Karen Brady.

Last ‘Movember’ I had the opportunity to ask our Chairman David Gold and former FA Chief Executive Mark Palios their views on safe standing live on a Sports TV channel by Skype.

In response to my question about safe standing David Gold replied “I have recently seen a German model of safe standing, it actually is a seat but you leave the seat up and you can stand there but for other functions they can actually drop the seat down very quickly with a mechanism. It can be done and I think we should at least take a look at it and not close our eyes to the fact”

When asked whether David would install safe standing at the Olympic Stadium he replied. “If I got the Olympic Stadium, I would certainly consider it there”

Hopefully football grounds in the future can accommodate areas for safe standing as well as seated areas for others.

The 2012 Football Supporters Federation survey shows I am not alone and the strong support for the return of standing areas at football grounds, with 54.4% of the survey’s respondents saying they prefer to stand during games, and 91.1% saying fans should be given the choice to sit or stand.

When I spoke to Jon Darch, founder of the Safe Standing Roadshow he added: “It’s great that David Gold recognises the potential of rail seats. I hope he will now back the call for safe standing trials.”

Although David words were recorded before we were finally awarded the Olympic Stadium it appears safe standing forms no part of the current LLDC design for the Olympic Stadium. I do wonder what will be West ham’s stance on standing in front of seats when we move to Olympic stadium.

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