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West Ham’s cut-price trip to the Orient

The Boot Room

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West Ham United announced last week that they would slash season ticket prices for the 2016/17 season to less than £300 for an adult ticket, a price cut of between half and two-thirds on this season’s prices, depending on the location.

Why the 2016/17 season and not next season?

Simple, said West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, that season marks the start of the Premier League’s new £5.1 billion television deal, and with it, a significant cash boost to every club in the top flight. This windfall, Brady said, would be passed on to the fans at West Ham in the shape of a reduction in ticket prices.

But 2016/17 also marks West Ham’s first season in their new home at the Olympic Stadium.

The Boleyn Ground, where the club have plied their trade since 1904, holds 20,000 fewer supporters than the Olympic Stadium’s expected 55,000, and while West Ham are undoubtedly a club in demand – their average attendance last season was just over 34,000, putting them in the top 50 European clubs – it remains to be seen whether they have the draw to fill the substantially larger site.

Nothing would be more embarrassing to West Ham than being forced to explain why a stadium they bid for the right to use, a stadium paid for by the taxpayer, a stadium they faced stern opposition for, is half empty every week.

It’s a risk that’s significantly diminished in correlation with the reduced ticket prices. Pointing to the inflated television deal is a smart PR move, which works on three fronts:

One, it gives them a reduction in prices without having to admit they were concerned about filling the bigger stadium.

Two, it sets them up to build a narrative of accessible top flight football in a stadium with a national legacy, drawing in younger people, families, and new and part-time football supporters.

Three, it gives them first mover advantage on the new television deal, and puts the pressure on other clubs to follow their lead.

One club unlikely to be able to follow West Ham’s lead is Leyton Orient, whose Brisbane Road ground is less than two miles from the Queen Elizabeth Park site where the Olympic Stadium is situated. Orient will soon find their burly East End neighbours in much closer proximity, and the proposed price drop will bring the cheapest tickets at West Ham below the price of tickets in three of the four stands at Orient.

Then Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn launched a legal challenge to West Ham’s proposed move to the Olympic Stadium, which was settled out of court last year, with Orient set to receive compensation for lost revenue. And it’s not difficult to see how they could lose out. With the side two points from safety with a game to go in League One there’s the very real prospect of bottom tier football at the pre-war Matchroom Stadium trying to compete with Premiership stars in the sparkling venue where Mo, Jess and the gang won their gold medals. There’s just no contest. It’s a brave parent who takes their child to Orient when all their school friends are going to watch West Ham.

Come August next year, the walk to Brisbane Road will be made through a sea of claret and blue shirts, and evening fixtures will kick off with the glow of stadium lights on the horizon behind the Tommy Johnston Stand.

The disembodied voice of Bobby Moore will float across the cornfields of Stratford: “If you build it, they will submit the most competitively-priced bid during an open tendering process and, pending the result of a prolonged legal challenge and following completion of an extensive site redevelopment, they will come.”

“They will squint into a sky so blue it hurts your eyes just to look at whatever that weird sculpture tower thing that looks like candy laces wrapped round a slinky is.”

Cars will queue into the distance not knowing for sure why they’re doing it, people in half-scarves will visit the Westfield Shopping Centre and they’ll pass over the money without thinking about it, and, at the end, David Sullivan will play catch with his dad and we’ll all have our hearts warmed.

Putting aside the valuable lessons we’ll all learn about the power of believing in our dreams, the 2016/17 season will herald a shift in power structures of football. An average attendance in the high 50-thousands would put West Ham in the top 10 among European clubs – firmly up there with Arsenal and amongst the German clubs with their low-price ticket models. The enhanced television deal will create a new relationship between the top flight and the rest of the football league, one with an accentuated divide. And the geographic impact, West Ham United will move from the confines of Green Street to the regeneration mecca that is East London Zone 2, within striking distance of The City and with fast trains all the way through Kent.

Somewhere there’s a room full of commercial managers dreaming of clouds of money so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. And somewhere there’s a Leyton Orient fan wondering if they’re going to have the Tommy Johnston end to themselves next year.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

West Ham United

Marlon Santos joining West Ham would be ideal solution to defensive woes

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Photo: Getty Images.

There will be a summer of change at West Ham United this summer and with James Collins leaving the club there will be a spot opening up in defence. Reports from Spain indicate that the man to fill it could be Barcelona youngster Marlon Santos.

The Brazilian joined the Spanish giants permanently last summer after impressing for their B team and earning a first team debut in 2016/17 and spent pre-season with Ernesto Valverde’s first team before being sent out on loan.

Now, reliable Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo say that West Ham are interested in taking the defender on loan next season after he has impressed in France, playing for OGC Nice, making 27 appearances during his loan spell.

(Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has also been linked with Leicester but with West Ham believed to be leading the chase, it would be a wise move from Manuel Pellegrini to seal a deal as soon as possible.

Strong in the tackle, Santos would also bring some much needed pace to the West Ham defence. Replacing the likes of Collins and Jose Fonte who departed in January, the arrival of a fleet-footed defender would be a welcome turnaround at the London Stadium.

It may also suggest a change in style, with the former Fluminense youth product known for his ability on the ball, often looking to dribble out from the back to get his team transitioning from defence to attack.

Pellegrini is clearly putting the building blocks in place to build a side in his own image, and bringing in Marlon Santos would be a cheap and sensible addition to fix a major problem area.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Malcom would add another dimension to Tottenham’s attack

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Photo: Getty Images.

After an impressive 2017/18 campaign, Tottenham are already beginning to plan for 2018/19 and are keen to make a statement in their first season in a new look White Hart Lane. One way they may do so is with the addition of Girondins Bordeaux forward Malcom.

Sky Bet currently list Tottenham at 7/2 to sign the Brazilian, just behind favourites Manchester United in the running at 3/1, and such an acquisition would bring an exciting new element to Mauricio Pochettino‘s attacking set-up.

Predominantly playing on the right wing, Malcom may offer more width than many of the options within the Tottenham squad, but much like Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela, he likes to dribble on the ball and cut inside, offering a direct threat rather than looking to cross into others.

The 21-year-old scored 12 goals in 35 Ligue Un games for Bordeaux this season and whilst not exactly prolific, would help to add goals to the Lilywhites’ midfield and reduce the reliance on Harry Kane.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

He also has some similarities to the likes of Christian Eriksen as a superb set piece taker who likes to shoot from distance, helping to add another dimension as Tottenham look to break down more defensive sides who sit deep in hope of frustrating them.

With huge potential to develop even further, Malcom may not come cheaply but would represent an interesting project for Pochettino to get even more out of him. Whilst he bares many similarities to Erik Lamela when he arrived in north London, if he can avoid injury he could go on to become the player Spurs had hoped to see Lamela become.

His pace and threat would add a much needed option into the Spurs attack, complimenting the playmakers like Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura and supporting the goalgetter Harry Kane. Strength in depth is key in Tottenham’s quest for silverware and Malcom would be a step in the right direction to achieving it.

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Newcastle United

Fulham promotion opens up £15m exit for Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Newcastle United star is likely to move away from the club this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Fulham won promotion to the Premier League yesterday with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. The Cottagers scored in the first-half through Tom Cairney to rightfully take their place back in the top-flight of English football.

It was a tremendous performance and in the summer Fulham will be looking to bring in some new faces to help them stay in the top-flight. One of those faces, will not be necessarily new. Aleksandar Mitrovic has been brilliant for Fulham since joining on loan in January.

The Serbian striker has scored 12 goals since his arrival at Craven Cottage and will no doubt be wanted permanently at the club.

Is this good news for Newcastle United?

There has been plenty of talk regarding the Serbian’s exit from St James’ Park in the winter. Many fans on Tyneside are wondering whether the club should have kept him at Newcastle, considering his goal record in London.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

However, it is clear that Rafa Benitez is not a fan of the player and the Spaniard certainly made things work without him.

The best thing for Newcastle right now is to sell him and ensure they bring in enough money to cover the cost of his original signing.

Fulham represent their best option to do so. Newcastle want about £15 million for the player, according to the London Evening Standard, which is the fee they paid for the Serbian in 2015.

Fulham will no doubt want to bring him to the club this summer, but would not have been able to bring him to the club had they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Cottagers can now afford the player and Mitrovic’s price-tag is unlikely to be a problem with the bonus they will receive for heading into the top-flight. Newcastle must be pleased that Fulham earned promotion, as it will allow them the best opportunity to move Mitrovic on without a major loss.

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