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English Premier League 2015-16

Olympic Stadium won’t be a fortress, says West Ham manager Slaven Bilic as Hammers prepare for Boleyn send-off

London club will find it impossible to recreate the intense atmosphere of Upton Park and turn the Olympic Stadium into a “fortress” when they move there next season, says Croatian manager

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 9:52am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 9:52am

West Ham United will find it impossible to recreate the intense atmosphere of Upton Park and turn the Olympic Stadium into a “fortress” when they move there next season, said manager Slaven Bilic.

You need to have a hostile atmosphere, be intimidating for away teams. Forget about it – no chance
Slaven Bilic

The Hammers play their final competitive game at the venue against Manchester United in the Premier League on Tuesday before moving to the 60,000-capacity London 2012 Olympic site next season, leaving the Boleyn Ground after 112 years.

“You need to have a hostile atmosphere, be intimidating for away teams. Forget about it – no chance,” Bilic was quoted as saying by the BBC on Monday.

“You are losing something because it is impossible to make the Olympic Stadium a fortress.”

West Ham will pay £2.5 million (HK$30 million) a year to rent the stadium from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). At least £272 million has been spent to convert the stadium, with the club contributing £15 million.

West Ham have sold all their season tickets for next term, more than 50,000.

Arsenal moved to the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium in 2006 while London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are also set to redevelop their grounds.

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“When you played Arsenal at Highbury it wasn’t dangerous but you felt it,” said Bilic. “Then we played against them at the Emirates and we enjoyed it; the players were taking selfies.”

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan said on Monday the club were determined to sign a top-class striker.

“We are hopefully going to bring one or two top players in. The Olympic Stadium gives us about £12 million extra revenue a year,” he told Sky Sports.

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“We put in a bid today for 30m euros (HK$265.1m) for a player and other bids will be going in. We are going to make a £20m or £25m bid for a player in England this week. So whatever happens, we’ll bring a top striker in.

“It’s a statement of intent. We’ll spend between £30 to £50 million on transfers this summer but you’ve got to build it up gradually. You can’t compete with the likes of Manchester United overnight.”

British media speculated that the £30m was for Olympique Marseille forward Michy Batshuayi and that the player in England was out-of-favour Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.