The chairman of West Ham United has broken his silence over the club’s controversial move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford.
Critics argued that the Hammers had been effectively handed a set of keys for a new stadium, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill.
But, in an interview with American news broadcaster ESPN, David Gold said the Olympic Stadium was “dreadfully designed” and that West Ham were doing their bit by making use of it.
He said: “I think it’s a great story to suggest that West Ham have pulled off the deal of the century, but that is not the reality.
“The truth is the London Legacy Development Corporation [LLDC] saved the Olympic Stadium from becoming a white elephant in the heart of London. If they had not done a deal with West Ham, the cost to the London taxpayer of keeping that stadium sitting there with nothing in it would have been even more wasteful.
“Too many Olympic Stadiums around the world are not being used and there is no kind of legacy, which is a tragedy for the cities involved.
“Some are being turned into car parks, others have chains locking the doors. That is not what anyone wanted to see after a memorable London Olympics in 2012.
“Essentially, we are making the best of a bad lot. The Olympic Stadium was dreadfully designed to start with, and we are all working together to try and save a difficult situation.
“This is a great deal for us, a great deal for the taxpayer, a great deal for the Olympic site - and everyone should be reporting on what a fantastic legacy this deal is providing for London.”
He argued that, by moving to the 54,000-seater stadium, the Hammers would join the inner circle of elite English clubs and challenge for honours.
“We will fill that stadium because there is a correlation between the size of your stadium, the number of fans that support your football club, and your position in the league,” he said.
“It is no surprise that Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City are at the top of the table because they have the biggest stadiums.”
“We want to get into that top mix among the top London clubs. You have Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, but West Ham are slowly pushing upwards.
“The reality of football is that the big fish gobble up the best players from the little fish. The solution to the problem is simple: We need to become a bigger fish.”
Meanwhile, former West Ham playmaker Stewart Downing has hit out at owners David Sullivan and David Gold for making his summer departure to hometown club Middlesbrough “difficult”.
“Some days I thought ‘I could be heading back home today’, and then another week, and a fee has to be agreed,” Downing told BBC Teesside. “West Ham is obviously a difficult place to get out of, if you’ve ever dealt with the owners, they’re certainly entertaining.”