A Stand To Be Proud Of

West Ham United Director Chris Manhire has praised the club's staff and supporters for their conduct and patience during the construction of the fantastic new Dr. Martens stand.

Completion of the work is close and, for the match against Tottenham on Saturday, the capacity will be over 32,000.

"I think there has been a lot of disruption to the club but hopefully not to the supporters," says Chris, who has been overseeing the massive project.

"They have been as good as gold, and soon the whole ground will start to settle down and people will become familiar with it.

"It is a fairly complicated engineering project to tie everything in and make sure it all works, but we are coming to the end of it and I believe what we will have at the end of it will be something we are all proud of.

"The clever thing about the whole scheme is that we did not lose a seat throughout the redevelopment of the major part of the ground, and there has been no impact on the income stream.

"That could have cost the club £3m or £4m, but because of that it complicates the construction phase.

"I think like any building contract, big or small, you go through periods of loving the builder, hating him, and then loving him again!"

Explaining the complications of the innovative project, he adds: "A phased handover, which, to be fair, Taylor Woodrow came to the table with, does create big problems with the hospitality staff, the security staff, and everybody at the club.

"One day it is a building site and the next we have to operate it on a matchday, and it has been a phenomenal effort from the staff of all departments at West Ham, who have really come up trumps - getting people in and ensuring the fans are fed and watered.

"There are teething problems but I think the fans on the upper tier and the corporate fans have had a good service.

"Now we want to finish it, get the thing up and running, and give it over to the hospitality and security guards and get a good income from it.

"We should have completed it by now but the last month has been a bit of a struggle because we were late on handovers - but we are getting there.

"It has been a bit painful recently, I think it is fair to say, but it is critical that we are open for the Tottenham game.

"I suspect - like the first handover - we we will be biting nails to the very end, but I'm hopeful and confident.

"There are safety issues which we can't compromise on, and a lot of people have input as to whether the ground is safe enough, but we are all working towards the Tottenham game."

There is no doubt that demolishing and constructing at the same time is a highly skilled and complicated procedure, and he adds: "The principle problem is that by nature of the construction programme there was very little lead-in time.

"Almost from day one there were delays on the steel frame and that is the fundamental structure, so once we are behind time with that it does have a big knock on effect."

One thing that will remain familiar on Saturday is the mud between the Dr. Martens stand and the pitch, and Chris adds: "It is a lake now and it is going to be like that for the next couple of games; hopefully by Christmas or the Arsenal game the whole of the front area will start to take shape.

"The rooves are still being worked upon so we can't get to the pitch until they are clear, so that has been delayed, I'm afraid.

"We are endeavouring to get it done as soon as possible, but it is a restricted area and we can't really put a pitch down when there are 30 ton cranes around."