West Ham poach key figure from London rivals Arsenal ahead of big move to Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium 2

West Ham United are taking the lead from Premier League rivals Arsenal on how to make a success of their move to the Olympic Stadium.

The Gunners moved to their fantastic Emirates Stadium back in 2006, and it is considered to be one of the best arenas in Europe.

Since then, the 60,000 capacity stadium has undergone a process of "Arsenalisation" with the aim of restoring the club's rich heritage and history.

But it is the impact on the all important bank balance that has been most welcoming.

Arsenal’s match day revenue increased from £37.4m in their old Highbury stadium to over £90m in the new Emirates Stadium (equivalent to an additional income of over £1m per match), and that excludes other commercial revenue. 

The financial success meant Arsenal could clear all their bank loans in 2010 and have been able to emerge as a club with arguably the best financial footing of any club in Europe, applauded by UEFA as the defining model for other clubs to follow in meeting the requirements of the UEFA Financial Fair Play initiative.

What better blueprint to follow?

So what better blueprint for the Hammers to follow for their own major move from their famous 35,000 seater Boleyn Ground home of 112 years to the 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium, which has the option to be increased to 66,000 in future years.

So what did West Ham do? They went out and poached Felicity Barnard from the North Londoners and appointed her West Ham's commercial director.

And speaking to Sports Pro, Barnard says her time at Arsenal will help the Hammers make a success of the move.

"Lots and lots (of lessons to be learned)," Barnard told Sports Pro.

"Arsenal is a fantastic club, the time I was at Arsenal it went through its major period of growth and move to the new stadium.

"So there is obvious synergies between my current role moving to a new stadium and the one that I went through at Arsenal.

"From that I think there's a lot of lessons in personnel and how to deal with resourcing that change and that move.

"And also educating the business and wider market to the importance of growth.

"I also think Arsenal did very well at professionalising the business and making sure commercial partnerships, because of their huge margin within that business, were seen as very important and that's we're trying to do at West Ham as well."

If, like Arsenal, the Hammers can get their stadium move right, then unlike the Gunners they will not be saddled by the huge costs of building the stadium in the first place.

So, it could leave the Hammers in a very healthy position to finally start challenging the Premier League's elite.

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