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Mar 4, 2013

Hammers close to Olympic agreement

West Ham are on the verge of agreeing a move to the Olympic Stadium, according to co-chairman David Gold.

• Blog: Precious away win

The Hammers reportedly moved a step closer to an agreement earlier this month, following talks with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

Mayor of London Boris Johnson described the discussions as "positive" and Gold has now revealed an agreement - that would see the club move to the stadium in 2016 - could be secured by as early as March 16.

"I think we're close. It's only what I'm being promised. As we speak I'm being promised March 16," Gold told talkSPORT. "We would sign the agreement then."

Gold made a point, however, of saying that the date was not set in stone as the potential move had suffered glitches previously.

"I'm embarrassed because I've tweeted ten times that it's going to be next week or next month and here's a date," he said. "The date comes and goes and then I give another date. But I think we are close."

West Ham were handed 'preferred bidder' status in December and talks with the LLDC have since focused on details of the proposed move. A key talking point has centred around the costs of erecting temporary seating to cover the running track in the stadium.

Gold insists a move would only go ahead if the stadium was "fit for use", adding that he hopes to overcome the problem of the running track, in regards to the view of the spectators.

"There are certain things I can't share with you because of the confidentiality agreement. We will only go there if it is fit for use," he said. "I won't go there if I have to look over a running track. But I believe we are in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Let's face it. They've built a stadium - albeit wrong shape and size."

A key part of London's successful Olympic bid was the promise to keep athletics at the venue in the future. Gold, though, believes that a football club is needed at the stadium if athletics are to remain in the long term.

"Most Olympic Stadiums have failed because they haven't embraced the legacy and also saying the Olympics is over," he said. "Athletics needs football to support it. There's no other way."

The LLDC will discuss the future of the Olympic Stadium at their next board meeting on March 26.

Meanwhile, Gold was unable to confirm the future of manager Sam Allardyce beyond the end of the season, but says he expects him to remain at the club. Allardyce's deal expires in the summer, but the club have said talks will not begin until West Ham's Premier League status has been secured.

"What we promised and, what Sam promised us, is that at the end of the season we would sit down and discuss Sam's position," Gold said. "I'm very optimistic that Sam will be our manager next season. But we have to sit down. The agreement with the board was that we would sit down at the end of the season, not when we're safe - we are not mathematically safe as we speak."

Asked if he was worried if Allardyce could agree a move elsewhere before his contract expires, he added: "There's always the danger that a bigger club comes in. There is that danger. Having said that Sam has given his word that he will sit down and discuss his contract at the end of the season and I trust him."

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