Wednesday Kickoff: West Ham given approval to start Olympic Stadium renovations; match-fixing allegations in Spain; and more

OlympicStadiumLondon2012 (LOCOG)

By DAN KARELL

Folks living on Green Street in east London might want to start counting down the days before West Ham leave the Boleyn Ground.

After receiving a 99 year lease on March 22, West Ham were given approval on Tuesday to begin converting the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London to a 54,000 seat arena that will become the new home of the Irons in 2016.

The re-constructed stadium will be rated a UEFA 4-Star facility, with retractable seats, relocated concessions and restrooms, and numerous suites and club boxes. The 275 feet tall roof will also constitute the largest-spanning tensile roof in the world.

West Ham’s owners fought tooth and nail with fellow London clubs Leyton Orient and Tottenham over the future use of the showpiece at the 2012 Summer Olympics, finally winning the rights to make the move last March. The Irons have been based out of Upton Park since 1904, though the current stadium on the site has been renovated numerous times, putting the current capacity at more than 35,000.

Here are some more stories to get your day started:

MATCH-FIXING ALLEGATIONS COMING OUT OF SPAIN

Early in May, the Spanish Football Federation began to investigate a match between Deportivo La Coruña and Levante after a Levante player reportedly blamed his teammates after the game for not trying.

Now according to new reports in Spain, there are even more allegations of potential match-fixing in La Liga games. In the report, an unnamed manager told his team that when they play Levante, the match will finish in a draw, and if a goal does go in on either side, that the other team will allow the scoreline to be leveled again.

The report also quotes another unnamed manager that said he has been unsure of playing certain of his players on the fear that they are in on a fix, but struggles leaving his more talented players off the field because he doesn’t want to lose his job.

Previously, Deportivo’s owner Augusto Cesar Lendoiro said that he believed Spain is rife with match-fixing, though he denied that his club take any part in it.

PEREZ WANTS RONALDO TO BE HIGHEST EARNER IN THE WORLD

Real Madrid didn’t win the Neymar sweepstakes, but they still plan on spending a large amount of money this summer.

Club President Florentino Perez said in a radio interview that he planned on making Cristiano Ronaldo the centerpiece of Real Madrid next season and wanted to make the Portuguese international the highest paid player in the world.

Ronaldo is currently only rivaled in terms of salary and endorsement by Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and recently retired midfielder David Beckham. The 28-year-old sparked controversy last fall when saying that he didn’t celebrate scoring because he was sad, and has yet to extend his current contract which runs through 2015.

Perez also added that he believes Ronaldo, who is currently making a reported $21.9 million per season in salary, is the best player in the world. This season Ronaldo continued his lethal scoring run in the Spanish capital, scoring 34 La Liga goals in 34 matches, with one final match against Osasuna on Saturday to finish the season.

BALE WILL LISTEN TO REAL MADRID OFFER, SAYS AGENT

Gareth Bale’s agent believes that if Real Madrid were to present an offer to his client, he would strongly consider it.

The Tottenham winger won multiple Player of the Year awards this season for his play, scoring 21 goals in the Premier League and averaged more than a goal per game during a stretch in February where he was nearly unstoppable. However, the side’s fifth place finish in the standings means that Spurs will be in the Europa League again, raising the chances that Bale will leave for Champions League soccer.

Madrid have long been rumored to sign the Welsh starlet and have previously worked with the London club, signing midfielder Luka Modric this past fall for more than a $45 million transfer fee. Spurs have also offered Bale a new contract this summer to keep him at the club, raising his salary to more than $200,000 per week.

QUICK KICKS

Former Chelsea centerback Ricardo Carvalho has signed for Monaco on a free transfer. (REPORT)

Paris Saint Germain are reportedly interested in bringing in Paulo Henrique Ganso to France this summer. (REPORT)

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has stated that former manager Sir Alex Ferguson advised him against leaving Manchester United, saying that everyone in Italy is racist. (REPORT)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been appointed manager of Belgian side Royal Antwerp. (REPORT)

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What do you make of this news? Do you see the Olympic Stadium being a good home for West Ham? Do you believe that La Liga has fixed matches? Do you see Ronaldo signing a new contract this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

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24 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: West Ham given approval to start Olympic Stadium renovations; match-fixing allegations in Spain; and more

  1. Sly says:

    Everyone sir Alex? Everyone? An exaggeration but its usually only the the opposing ultras. I guarantee you the most racist fans would take Pogba and Balotelli on their teams if it meant winning.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      If you read the linked article it was that “there’s racism everywhere” and “there’s a lot of racism,” which is not the same thing as everyone’s racist. Reality is that above a certain percent of a problem, who cares if it’s everyone, it’ll be enough to make you uncomfortable.

      Balotelli threatened two weeks ago that he’ll walk off the pitch if he gets abused again. That doesn’t sound like racist fans cynically biting their tongue. And Balotelli was born in Italy……Palermo, Sicily specifically. I doubt he calls out his countrymen lightly.

      • William the Terror says:

        Palermo, Sicily?

        “My heart was pounding as I crossed the dance floor. In a few minutes I would be free or dead…or Rodolfo Lasparri of Palermo, Sicily!”

    • Clyde Frog says:

      Or perhaps he didn’t really use the word “everyone”. Perhaps.

      • Old School says:

        This is Sir Alex we’re talking about. Nothing would surprise me.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        i don’t know, i don’t think pogba would put words in fergie’s mouth, especially when it would make fergie look bad. i mean, they’re best friends, right?

  2. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’ll be interested to see how Orient copes with having West Ham on their doorstep. You’re talking about a team that 15 years ago had one end of the field going into not a stand but a wooden wall. I saw a player get taken off and ambulanced away one time after being knocked into the wall a la Bump Bailey in The Natural. Brisbane Road has been built up since then but they are like night and day with West Ham and Olympic Stadium.

    Spurs will be fine.

  3. The Imperative Voice says:

    Mourinho is on his way out officially in the next few days so is this really the time for Bale to explore Madrid?

    • Beto says:

      +1 the prestige (bank and history) is undeniable but i wouldn’t have any interest in that club until they have a coach and a philosophy…

      That said ronaldo and bale on the wings would be scary good..

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Yeah, to me, you want a package deal of team coach philosophy where you plug in well. He is so in demand he’ll get his payday regardless, so be picky about the location. Wait a few weeks and see who Madrid lines up to be coach. Otherwise you’re just signing up with a brand name and a payroll department and who knows what you’re getting soccerwise. And given that they didn’t win much this year, you can’t even presume upon some sort of Steve Fisher momentum where the talent is so good it doesn’t even matter who manages.

        Yeah, those two coming down the flanks would be scary. Though ironically one of Bale’s scariest bits is that cut in to the middle on the left foot, poor guy late in the season was marking him sideways– not even bothering with goalside — and still gives up that bender far post.

    • biff says:

      It is the perfect time for Bale to explore Real Madrid, which has suffered under Mourinho for three years, with this past season a nightmare. Two of three potential replacments, Jupp Heynckes and Jurgen Klopp, are much better coaches than Mourinho who can actually get along with their players. And the other front-runner, Carlo Ancelloti is a significant improvement over Mourinho. As a Madrid fan, I am so happy to see Mourinho gone.

      • Increase says:

        The problem I see with Bale going to Real is that… Ronaldo and He more or less do the same thing.

        They have different styles for sure but both are wingers that use the same spaces to do their work. One of the two is going to have to change his game to make room for the other. Bale is like 70% speed… I don’t know he can change his game. and Neither really play defence.

        He might just get sat on the bench behind Ronaldo to prevent unbalancing the team.

        • biff says:

          True, Bale is a great winger. But some of his best games for Tottenham this season he played in the middle. And by the end of the season when he was back at winger, he mostly was playing on right. In any case, despite what Perez is saying, I would not be surprised to see Madrid snare Bale this summer while Ronaldo moves on to a new team. Not saying it will happen, just that there are some signs that Ronaldo might want to go and it could be interpreted the Perez is going to try to derail it with a new contract. And I know this gonna sound crazy, but there were times this past season that I thought Bale was better than Ronaldo, basically Bale magically producing goals all on his own, ala Lionel Messi.

        • bryan says:

          for sure, there will be some issues with trying to get CR, Di Maria, and Bale all on the field at the same time. we know it won’t happen. and while Bale isn’t a great defender, he did start out at LB…lol

          either way, Bale can play on the wing, in the middle, our at fullback. too versatile to not sign simply because he can also play the same position as CR. it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  4. Good Jeremy says:

    I was really hoping Leyton Orient would win the rights, just to see the 5,000 people who show up to the elite stadium for the classic Leyton Orient-Shrewsbury Town derbies.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think some of the debate, which Orient obviously lost, was over whether they could grow the team playing in the bigger stadium. Where West Ham can just point to current attendance and EPL status as opposed to a business plan where the minnow becomes a shark. Which I thought is what the Olympic Stadium people were getting at regarding “economic viability.” Although if you look at the Welsh teams changing stadia, increasing attendance, and over time moving up into the EPL, Orient’s sales pitch was not necessarily completely dreamland (counterexample being the Milton Keynes Dons, who abandoned Wimbledon for Milton Keynes without a stadium, and now play in a half full playpen).

  5. fischy says:

    I still think that last AC Milan game was fixed….

  6. Sr coble says:

    That is a lot £ for the capacity..but I can’t any stadium with a track around it. Takes too much of the intimacy away for me.

    • biff says:

      won’t they be getting rid of the track? Or will it stay?

    • Kodi says:

      If you follow the link attached with the article, there is a video by the Vice Chairman of West Ham discussing the stadium and specs. They will move the seats forward and the track will not be visible during games. It looks like its going to be a pretty impressive venue.

  7. bryan says:

    glad to hear Perez is committed to keeping Ronaldo. also glad to hear about Bale. i think he’ll end up signing. now Madrid need to figure out what they want to do at RB. i’d like to bring back Carvajal but i doubt they’ll do it despite him having a good season at Leverkusen. i believe the buy-back clause is €6.5 million if they take him back this year.

    Monaco could be fun to watch.

    • biff says:

      Timothy Chandler :-) Nurnberg probably would be happy to get rid of ‘em.

      • bryan says:

        lol i mean, i would be all for it! Chandler did say he thinks the fact he didn’t play at RB for the whole season was part of the reason he didn’t have a good season. so he’d be down to play RB!

  8. divers suck says:

    I sure hope West Ham gets rid of that eye sore track around the pitch!