This summer West Ham United were due to replace the curved end stands with new, rectangular seating sections. While the structure is ready, the coronavirus pandemic caused timing disruptions.
Answering questions on twitter, WHUFC vice-chairman Karren Brady referred to the issue of London Stadium redevelopment.
Brady said: “Two stands bringing supporters closer to the pitch, squaring off the curves behind the goals have already been made & are ready to install, was planning to be done this summer, just have to wait until games recommence to ensure there is enough time between seasons to do it.”
Should the Premier League season recommence with regular use of home stadiums, there would likely not be enough time to carry out the operation before the 2020/21 campaign begins. However, if games are played at entirely empty stadia or at alternative venues, the timing could be even more friendly for the operation. The sooner a decision comes on how the 2019/20 season ends, the better in terms of planning.
The structures in question are two lower-tier ends of London Stadium, which are to replace the current demountable sections, as announced 14 months ago. These parts of Sir Trevor Brooking and Bobby Moore Stands were known for compromised distance from the field.
However, this was by no means the main motivation behind the planned replacement. As the lower tier of London Stadium is entirely mobile, it can be reconfigured for varying uses. Every summer the stands would be dismantled and rebuilt in an athletics layout, while in 2019 and 2020 further changes were included for baseball (now cancelled for 2020).
The reconfiguration has been notoriously expensive, prompting Wets Ham to appeal for athletics to be dropped from the stadium entirely. With only one operation (from football to athletics and back) the one-time price tag stood at £4 million (€4.6m), while with baseball it rose to £6 million (€6.9m).
Meanwhile, the newly ordered stands are much simpler in delivery. According to the contract between stadium operator and Arena Events Group, average annual cost will not drop to just £1.6 million over 7 years, with option to extend it.
As for the promised improvament in sightlines for fans, it's arguable at best. It's true that some fans would be moved up to 4 meters closer to the field, however others could end up even further away from the action. Also, those moving the most would no longer be covered by the stadium's roof.