‘Sold a Dream Given a Nightmare’
I can understand the reaction of West Ham fans. There were some quite shocking scenes at the London Stadium on Saturday, and much of it was unnecessary and unjust.
The fan who placed the corner flag in the centre of the pitch was not just performing a random act anger, but a nod to 1992. In February that year a fan walked on the pitch and placed a corner flag in the centre spot before sitting with his legs crossed. Players tried to persuade the fan to leave, but hoards more fans came and sat down in protest of the club’s board, who had proposed to make fans buy a bond before they could buy a season ticket.
The protest was successful and the bond scheme was quickly scrapped – and the fans will fee just as hard done by today.
They have been waiting for so long to bring some glory back to that club. The move to the London Stadium was supposed to be a step in the right direction, showing ambition that the Hammers were chasing European football. Instead though, the move has been full of problems. Fans have complained that they are sat too far away from the action, the open nature means there is no atmosphere in the ground, and many say they feel like the club has lost its identity. You even see fans write ‘RIP West Ham’ on Twitter.
Besides the issues with the new stadium, West Ham are in 16th place, just three points clear of the relegation zone, which is a million miles from the European football they were promised.
I’ve worked under the same board when I was at Birmingham City and their objectives were clear even if they didn’t always succeed. They are business minded people who focus on bringing their club to the next stage, just like every business person who owns a club.
But you have to remember that you won’t get as much time as you need in the world of football now. I do feel their strategy isn’t always the best in terms of who they select to lead their teams. It’s always the same – fighting for relegation should stop being a regular thing, maybe just an occasional circumstance due to a miscalculation. When it happens consistently you need to question your advisor and their philosophy.
The fans have had their fair share of bad times and don’t want to go down again. The fans were promised Champions League football in exchange for the move away from the Boleyn Ground. ‘Sold a dream given a nightmare’ read a banner at the stadium on Saturday.
Some fans see how much the players earn and think they don’t care about the club, but trust me I am a million percent sure they hate being in this situation. I’ve been there myself.
I don’t condone fans getting on the pitch and going after the owners with such aggression, and the club will get sanctions which doesn’t help anyone and should not be part of football.
They have enough experience as football club owners to weather the storm, and they should get through it. They need to be strong and shift focus to working with the right people that have the best interest in getting the most out of the West Ham project.
They need to fix the issues fast or the fan behaviour will only escalate.