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If all you do is build it, they won’t come

Supporters are exhausted with the mediocrity in East London.

Leaders Sport Business Summit 2016 - Day One Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Leaders

Karren Brady tweeted Thursday about how the club is trying to increase capacity at the London Stadium. This is nothing new for West Ham United, but it’s a telling sign that on the day the Kelechi Iheanacho deal fell through, the big announcement from the board was that they’ve sold out of season tickets and that they’re working on increasing capacity.

Instead of increasing capacity, here’s an idea: make some quality signings so that supporters will actually want to come to games. There’s no point in adding seating to the stadium (other than making more money to not spend on players) if no one wants to come watch. The only times the stadium got completely filled last season were when West Ham played a “big” club à la Manchester United or Chelsea, or for the rivalry match with Tottenham Hotspur.

Buddy, there’ll be more signings, but you probably won’t like ‘em.

The problem here isn’t that the board are trying to increase the capacity of the stadium—in fact, that’s great! But first, maybe put together a squad that will entice the masses to come and watch. Selling out season tickets is good business, but it’s contemptibly clear that there are thousands of empty seats every week unless it’s a “big” game.

We want West Ham to one day be one of the clubs in the conversation for Top Four every season. It’s something that is truly attainable, and the 2015/16 season proved that. If the board would shell out the money that’s necessary to sign quality players, and stop blaming Slaven Bilic every time they cheap out on a player, there could be a lot less discord in East London.

The board aren’t malicious, they just don’t want to lose money on their investment. The best way to make money, though, is to spend money. If you spend big, you win big. Losing big is a possibility, but in the footballing world if you’re spending big you know that you’re more likely to succeed than to not. Think of the money wasted on “cheap” signings that haven’t panned out. That adds up. Iheanacho was absolutely worth £25m, even if he were to be bought back in two seasons or so. He is a proven Premier League talent, and if Manchester City had ever wanted to buy him back, the board would have made money off of him! That’s a good investment! This is elementary, folks. If the board build the squad, supporters will come. If the board only focus on building the prettiest stadium with the largest screen in Europe, supporters won’t come. The fans just want to watch the team they love play competitive football. Make it happen. Stop cutting corners thinking no one will notice. They do.