Pablo Zabaleta - Manu Lanzini convinced me to join West Ham United
Pablo Zabaleta has revealed that Manuel Lanzini played a big role in persuading him that his future lie with West Ham United. The two-time Premier League champion, who will join the Club on 1 July, has experience to burn after a successful career that has seen him lift seven major trophies, earn 56 international caps and start a FIFA World Cup final. With 230 Premier League appearances under his belt, Zabaleta has appeared more times in England's top-flight than any other Argentinian player, and becomes the seventh player from the South American country to pull on a Claret and Blue shirt. The defender revealed he had spoken to two of them, Manuel Lanzini and Jonathan Calleri, before turning down offers from leading clubs in Italy, Spain and England in favour of the Hammers. "I spoke a few times with him and of course I'm so happy to see Manu doing that well," Zabaleta, who has signed a two-year contract, told West Ham TV. "I think he had an incredible season and is in the list for the two games for the national team, which is really good for him. "Manu is one of the main players for this Club and for the team and hopefully I can meet him as a teammate very soon."
Indeed, Zabaleta revealed that the recent call-up to the Argentina national team had played a big part in convincing him that his future lie at London Stadium.
"I spoke to Manu, especially because when West Ham showed interest in signing me, it was a good opportunity for me to have some information about the Club, especially from someone inside," he explained. "It was something we don't know from outside, of course. "He told me really good words about everyone at the Club, that he was enjoying himself as a West Ham player and enjoying life in London, so it was good for me to have that information to help me make my final decision."
Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Mauro Zarate and Lionel Scaloni have also plied their trade in east London and Zabaleta believes there is a special bond between West Ham supporters and his fellow countrymen that he hopes to strengthen. "This is something we really appreciate and, as you know, Argentinian players are always 100 per cent committed to the club we are playing for and of course this is something we have to show on and off the pitch," he confirmed. "That connection between Argentinian players over the last ten years with West Ham Football Club is something really good and I have to make sure I continue with that relationship over the next two years."
SAB enjoy end of season meeting
West Ham United's Supporter Advisory Board (SAB) enjoyed a hugely positive end of season meeting at London Stadium on Wednesday evening.
As part of the continued commitment to improving the overall supporter experience for West Ham United fans, both on matchdays at London Stadium and in general, SAB members - representing different sections of the Club's large and diverse fanbase - met to reflect on the Club's historic first season at our new home and look forward to a positive and exciting future.
The meeting was chaired by Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Tara Warren, who thanked members for their effort and devotion to the SAB, and for their positive contribution and feedback that had helped the Club to make such great strides over the course of the campaign.
Also present on the main panel representing West Ham United were Director of Operations Steve Gotkine, Head of Ticketing Nicola Keye, Disability Access Officer Julie Pidgeon, Head of Concessions Nick Kendall and Supporter Services Manager Jake Heath, while LS185 Head of Commercial Michael Temple was also present to answer questions.
During the two-hour meeting, a range of subjects were discussed including; accessibility and the successful launch of the Disabled Supporters Advisory Board, stewarding and matchday operations, stadium security, ticketing, routes to and from London Stadium and public transport links.
Much of the meeting reflected on the magnificent work of both West Ham United supporters and staff to resolve some of the issues identified early last season, with several positive initiatives and actions completed since the SAB first met back in January.
These included the creation of the DSAB and its successful first meeting, increasing the number of radar locks on accessible toilets, balancing the ratio of male/female toilets, minimising queues and waiting times for the Accessible Shuttle Bus service, assisting Green Street traders in moving to London Stadium, easing congestion at turnstiles, revising the searching process for women and children, a wide number of improvements to the stewarding operation, and the continued expansion of the matchday SLO initiative.
Stewarding was a particularly popular discussion, with many members acknowledging the clear and ongoing improvement over the course of the season, thanks to a range of measures, including stewards being addressed by the club on the history, heritage and traditions of the Club and its supporters, club crests being added to steward uniform, and the Supporter Services team and SLOs working closely with LS185 to create an environment of unity and positivity.
Looking ahead to next season, Tara Warren emphasised the Club's constant commitment to improving the supporter experience, with a joint initiative planned with LS185 to implement a new stewarding strategy and provide further training and education for stewards on West Ham United and its supporters.
There is also a desire for the SAB to evolve into an even more representative body, with new members invited to apply based on their representation of larger sections of our diverse fanbase, in order to set an agenda of the absolutely key issues that can benefit as many West Ham United supporters as possible.
The Club will be actively inviting new applicants for the 2017/18 SAB. Members representing large groups, such as WHUISA, Pride of Irons, Bondholders, DSAB and large online communities will remain, but we are seeking new members who represent large members of the fanbase, including youth (under 25), seniors (over 65), women, families, Club London members and 1966 Season Ticket holders.
Details of how to apply will be announced on whufc.com over the summer, but if you can demonstrate that you represent a wide section of the fanbase and would like to register your interest or simply find out more, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Minutes of meeting
Supporter Advisory Board meeting minutes
Date: Wednesday 24 May 2017
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Location: Press Conference Room, London Stadium
Tara Warren, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, West Ham United
Nicola Keye, Head of Ticketing, West Ham United
Steve Gotkine, Operations Director, West Ham United
Julie Pidgeon, Disability Access Officer, West Ham United
Nick Kendall, Head of Concessions, West Ham United
Michael Temple, Head of Commercial, London Stadium 185
Jake Heath, Supporter Services Manager, West Ham United
SAB Members present:
Barbara Adams (East Lower – nominated to represent Bondholders)
Steve Applebee (Betway Upper - nominated to represent Bondholders)
Cathy Bayford (Betway Lower – nominated to represent ambulant disabled supporters)
Trevor Bright (Betway Upper – nominated to represent wheelchair-using supporters)
Brendan Burke (Betway Upper – nominated to represent Bondholders)
Steve Burton (Bobby Moore Lower)
Norman Collins (Supporters Clubs - UK and International)
Bev Cornell (Online Supporters Clubs)
Ken Hill (Betway Upper)
Carol Hinvest (Representing Pride of Irons; LGBT Hammers)
Stacey Housego (East Lower)
Nigel Khan (Representing West Ham United Independent Supporters Association)
Patricia Lamb (East Upper)
Cecilia O'Herlihy (East Lower)
Sebastian Pearse (Bobby Moore Lower)
Chris Sheppard (1966 member)
Lee Vehit (Bobby Moore Lower – expertise in Transport/stadium egress, member of WHU
Deaf Supporters Group)
Sean Whetstone (West Stand Lower)
1. Update on the SAB going forward
2. Disabled supporters update
4. Update on actions from last SAB
5. IAAF information
6. Transport update
7. Ticketing renewals and relocations
UPDATE ON THE SAB GOING FORWARD
Tara Warren (TW) opened the meeting by thanking everyone for making the effort to attend and for
their commitment to the SAB, before introducing the other representatives on the main panel.
Before proceeding with the agenda items, TW gave a presentation to provide an update on the
positive progress of the SAB and the plans going forward, particularly with regards to the structure
of the SAB and the groups that members represent.
With the current SAB - whilst representative - containing a number of people who joined via the
Founders Feedback Forum and perhaps had individual issues to debate, it has always been the Club's
aspiration that the SAB would evolve to have more members who represent a larger group or
section of the overall fanbase. Those members will then be tasked with bringing forward the two or
three core issues for agenda that the Club can focus on and if necessary invest in and champion for
the year ahead, along with the various day to day issues that crop up.
Aims and objectives
To provide the broadest representation possible of the West Ham United fanbase,
representing key groups within the fanbase rather than individuals
To have a base that ensures the best possible representation of our supporters from both
geo / demographic perspectives
To create a constructive forum for supporters to discuss and put forward key subject
matters affecting our fanbase with the West Ham United Board
To initiate and continue a direct, open and two-way communication between the Club and
To allow the Club to provide clarity and context on any key decisions that are made.
To enable fans to play a key role in improving the supporter experience and shaping the
future of West Ham United.
Working together to develop and maintain a positive relationship and the best supporter
experience for all West Ham United fans.
From consultation, all members have agreed to a smaller, more representative format going
forward, with members speaking on behalf of much larger groups and sections of the
The SAB will meet on a minimum of three occasions per season.
The SAB, and its processes, will be constantly reviewed to ensure the views of our fanbase
are fairly and appropriately represented.
Members should offer relevant experience and advice to deal with current agenda items.
A call will go out for new applications during the summer providing the opportunity for new
supporters to join the SAB.
Supporters who represent larger groups will hold their place on the SAB for the 2017/18
season, to ensure that collectively we maintain the largest representation of West Ham
New constituencies will be represented for the 2017/18 season and beyond.
A completely fresh application process for the 2017/18 SAB.
Fans can apply to represent a particular constituency.
Those on it to have a public profile on West Ham United platforms, in order that supporters
who wish to raise an issue know who they should contact to get their views aired.
TW reiterated West Ham United's commitment to ensuring the SAB continues to evolve and
confirmed that, ahead of the 2017/18 season, the Club will be encouraging new applicants to
represent, share and discuss the views of our supporters in the following areas:
Youth (under 25)
Senior (over 65)
Supporters Clubs UK
Supporters Clubs International
Non-geographical Supporters Clubs
1966 Season Ticket Holders
Season Ticket Holders from each stand
TW added that a lot of new non-geographical supporter groups were beginning to develop and
grow, and said the Club had been contacted by a group who represented a section of Asian
supporters, which would bring further perspective, and had been in contact with some other groups
carrying large representation that we were not previously aware of.
SW asked how large some of these groups were and if individuals would need to demonstrate that
they did indeed represent the groups they claimed to. TW confirmed that the Club had also
discussed this and agreed that groups representing large sections of the fanbase would need to
demonstrate their representation as part of the application process.
DISABLED SUPPORTERS UPDATE
The next item on the agenda was an update following the launch of the Club's Disabled Supporters
Advisory Board, which had its inaugural meeting at the stadium last month. TW stated her pride that
West Ham United are leading the way in the Premier League for accessibility issues, and explained
some of the measures in place helping to achieve that:
• Creation of the Disabled Supporters Advisory Board - the inaugural DSAB meeting was held
on April 19 2017 chaired by SAB representatives Cathy Bayford and Trevor Bright
• We have now increased the number of shuttle buses available on egress to 18 in order to
cater for demand and to minimise queuing times.
• There is now a pick-up and drop-off point at the official Coach Park at Pudding Mill Lane.
• Highest number of WAV spaces in the Premier League - 253
• One of only six Premier League clubs, and the only one in London, whose number of WAV
spaces exceed the minimum requirements set out in Accessible Stadia Guide.
• No limit to number of seats available for ambulant disabled supporters
• There are 45 accessible unisex toilet facilities at London Stadium available on all levels, 50%
are currently fitted with radar locks and all will be by start of next season
• West Ham United are one of only two Premier League clubs that meets the minimum
number of wheelchair spaces
• Also meets requirements for number of Amenity Easy Access (AEA) seats: 613
• 25% of ticket counters are at an accessible height for wheelchair-users and include induction
loops to support hearing aid users, exceeding the requirements for accessible ticket
counters set out in Level Playing Field's guidelines.
The Club has reviewed and submitted all information regarding its accessible facilities and services to
EHRC and to the Premier League for the Accessible Stadia Guide, which the Club are absolutely
committed to achieving. TW added that one of the main reasons the Club are working so closely
with the new DSAB is because we really do want to be leading the way, and a team of people are
working on every element of that goal – to be the very best.
London Stadium already exceeds or comfortably meets all recommended guidelines in terms of:
Step-free access into the Stadium
The number of passenger lifts and parking spaces
The accessibility of ticket-counters
Toilets and kiosks
Three Changing Places facilities
Rest areas for ambulant disabled supporters (which are in existence at 50m intervals across
Colour-coding for visually-impaired fans
The location of and sightlines from WAV spaces
TW then asked Cathy Bayford (CB) and Trevor Bright (TB) – as the chairs of the DSAB – to provide an
update on the progress made in that area and their goals and aims with the DSAB.
CB gave a full explanation of the DSAB launch and process, how it was formed and is represented by
a wide cross-section of ages and disabilities. CB explained that the initial meeting had centred
around three main issues of concern for disabled supporters, namely the Shuttle Bus service, postmatch
segregation and car parking facilities at London Stadium.
CB confirmed that those subjects sparked off further subjects for discussion, including the route
through the Westfield shopping centre, rest points on the Olympic Park, and the arrangements for
visually-impaired supporters using the headsets for matchday audio commentary, which is a
situation that should be resolved for next season.
CB admitted that the walk from Westfield on matchdays is a particular concern, and added that the
DSAB are looking at ways to work with Westfield to create a system for the benefit of disabled
Finally, CB mentioned that a BBC report had come out the day after the DSAB meeting naming
Premier League clubs who hadn't supplied their supporters with access statements about their
stadiums. CB was happy to report that the issue had already been identified and discussed at the
DSAB and that plans were already in place with Jake Heath to launch an interactive map that could
also become a mobile app, to help disabled supporters on their route through the park and around
the stadium. CB expressed her pride that the DSAB had already begun to make a positive difference
in this sense.
Sean Whetstone (SW) asked the panel to clarify a current job advertisement for an apprentice
Disability Liaison Officer (DLO), and where that apprentice would fit into the current set-up, or was it
the case that Julie Pidgeon (JP) was leaving her role?
JP confirmed that this was not the case, that she had in fact stepped up from being a DLO to
becoming a Disability Access Officer (DAO), and that another member of staff, Joanne Dexter, was
now a DLO, with the Club recruiting two apprentice DLOs to add to the team.
TW reiterated that, not only was JP not leaving, but that she had been promoted to DAO, and the
DLO team had been significantly boosted. The apprenticeship appointments are only to add to that
further, so this claim was categorically wrong, and West Ham United will only seek to increase and
grow that department.
Nicola Keye (NKey) confirmed that, under the terms of the government's new Apprenticeship Levy,
the Club have the opportunity to bring in a number of apprentices, creating career paths and further
strengthening the work force. The apprentice – who doesn't necessarily have to be of school-leaving
age - will be working in a team of four, headed by JP, with matchday DLOs adding to the team even
SW then asked Michael Temple (MT) if LS185 employ any DLOs.
MT confirmed that they do not, but added that accessibility is very important to LS185, and they
work closely with Julie, Jake and their teams at all times.
TW provided an update on the positive work that has taken place in partnership with LS185 to
improve the standard of stewarding at London Stadium following the issues that were identified
earlier in the season, particularly in relation to the core objective of making stewards feel more a
part of the West Ham family.
TW praised the involvement of the SAB and the fan bloggers, who have both been instrumental in
helping to inform and report, leading to a hugely positive improvement in the quality of stewarding,
with the following actions put in place to achieve that improvement:
The Club have worked collaboratively with LS185 to introduce a West Ham United section in
the steward briefing notes, educating them on the club's history, heritage and traditions.
West Ham United's Ben Illingworth attends the senior manager and supervisor briefings to
provide updates and discuss the importance of being a part of the West Ham Family.
Supporter Services Manager JH attends the senior managers/supervisor briefing to discuss
the role of an SLO and encouraged both teams to work together to ensure our fans
experience a consistent, friendly and unified service on matchday.
Stewards are more West Ham United in appearance and have e.g. the Club crest on their
Improvements to stewarding
A steward is stationed at each exit gate to ensure that supporters cannot enter the Stadium
via exit gates during the second-half.
Complaints are now minimal and SLOs are being used as a reporting mechanism back to the
It is vital that steward numbers are noted in these instances as they are now isolated issues
– it is likely the steward requires additional training.
Since the additional security wands were purchased, the Club have received only three
complaints regarding the searching process in all. That includes reports to SLOs on the day.
Evolution of stewarding
The Club and LS185 will be collaboratively reviewing the stewarding service over the
summer ahead of the 2017/18 season
One member voiced the opinion that there was just a general lack of empathy and understanding of
football crowds remaining among some stewards at the stadium, citing an incident at the recent
home match against Liverpool.
Steve Gotkine (SG) emphasised the fact that there had been a big improvement during the course of
the season, and assured members that plans are in place for the summer to work even more closely
with LS185 and look at re-training and re-inducting stewards to further educate them about West
Ham United and their fans. SG also confirmed that, in conjunction with LS185, a new stewarding
strategy would be implemented for next season.
MT added that the stewarding standards had come a long way since the start of the season, and that
there had been a huge reduction in the number of isolated incidents that had occurred early on.
TW again reiterated the need for all supporters to continue to help the Club and LS185 in reporting
incidents should they witness any involving poor levels of stewarding, as there is a process in place
for both parties to work together in thoroughly investigating such matters and that, generally, if a
case of poor stewarding is identified, the steward in question will not return to London Stadium for
West Ham United matches.
TW added that the presence of the SLOs had been a huge positive in that sense, and that the Club
would be talking to LS185 over the summer about some significant new measures that will only
improve the level of stewarding even further.
SW acknowledged the fact that the measures taken around blocks 113 and 114, next to the
segregation line, had worked very positively thanks to a consistency of stewards, many of whom had
previously worked at the Boleyn Ground.
Nigel Khan (NKh) said that a survey conducted among WHUISA members resulted in a large
percentage of comments giving the positive opinion that stewarding had improved greatly over the
course of the season.
TW asked if there were any specific issues relating to stewarding that any group might want to put
forward, enabling the club to look into other ideas that could help to continue the improvement.
SH asked about the use of the ABC – Acceptable Behaviour Contract – policy, what its format actually
consists of and if the process could be made clearer to supporters.
MT explained that the ABC is used when a supporter has been accused of unacceptable or anti-social
behaviour in the stadium. Rather than issue an immediate ban, the Club will invite the supporter to a
meeting and, in effect, issue the ABC as a final warning. Where possible the Club and LS185 will
always attempt to deal with any such situations in an understanding and amicable manner, but in
the event the supporter fails to adhere to the warning and breaches the terms of the ABC, a
standard tariff stadium ban is likely to be applied.
NKey added that the ABC is effectively a 'yellow card', and MT added that it has been a very
Cecilia O'Herlihy (CO) asked if it was something the police would be involved in, and MT confirmed
this generally wasn't necessary.
TW added that the entire process was a very fair and transparent one, and that quite a lot of
supporters who had been banned earlier in the season had seen the bans rescinded on appeal.
NKh agreed it was a very fair and positive idea.
NKey added that it was important, as part of the ground regulations, to deal quickly and fairly with
anti-social behaviour, and that the club would always look to open up clear dialogue with any
supporters accused of such behaviour – at times showing them evidence, being lenient when we
can, and working together with individuals so that they understand what is not acceptable. NKey
expressed satisfaction that the process is working very well.
Nkey also mentioned that the Club are already in the process of talking to supporters who were
banned earlier in the season on a season long ban and are therefore due to reach the end of their
bans in the summer, and will be offered a fresh start.
One member asked who decided what constituted unacceptable behaviour and if it was correct that
supporters had been banned for swearing.
MT confirmed that a team of people led by the Safety Officer would make that decision.
TW clarified categorically the fact that not a single person had been banned solely for swearing. TW
added that such issues and incidents had largely disappeared as the season wore on, and praised the
development and progress of the Club's Supporter Services team – with much help from SAB
members. A new club charter is currently being worked on to be released over the summer, and TW
praised it as the best charter she had ever seen at West Ham United, adding that she hoped
supporters would be pleased at the level of detail contained within it.
SW asked if stewards under the control of LS185 were due to be paid the London Living Wage in line
with SLOs, and following the London Mayor saying he will review pay for sub-contractors.
MT confirmed that the Mayoral investigation is ongoing, and that LS185 have also begun their own
investigation with contractors in line with that.
TW confirmed again that Karren Brady had written to the London Mayor supporting the pledge for
all sub-contractors at London Stadium to be paid the LLW – in the same way that all full-time and
part-time West Ham United staff are – and added that the Mayor had replied to the Executive Vice
Chairman confirming that this would happen.
TW added that another huge positive had been the Club's work in ensuring that stewards felt part of
the West Ham family – with the club and London Stadium offering to fund training for any stewards
from the Boleyn Ground who may not have received it and were therefore seeing development and
training as a barrier to move.TW again emphasised the need for supporters to report any issues
relating to stewarding on a matchday to the nearest supervisor or SLO or directly to the Club
thereafter. She stressed action could not be taken if incidents were not reported to the Club. MT
backed up that stance and confirmed that if supporters took the number of a steward and reported
an incident to a supervisor or Jake Heath and his team, an investigation would be carried out in
UPDATE ON ACTIONS FROM LAST SAB MEETING
TW provided an update on the many actions that have been completed following the previous SAB
meeting in January:
Fixing and maintaining the lift outside of turnstile D - London Stadium 185 have ensured that
a lift maintenance engineer is available at the lift at each match since our last meeting and
the Club are pleased to report that there have been no further issues – supporters verified
this was the case
Status - action complete
Increasing the number of radar locks on accessible toilets – At the last meeting it was
confirmed that 50% of the accessible toilets on the concourse are fitted with radar locks
with the additional 50% to be installed in time for the 2017/18 season
Status – action complete
Shuttle Bus service improvements – The Club have now increased the number of shuttle
buses available on egress to 18 in order to cater for demand and minimise queuing times. A
ticket queuing system was trialed and tested at the Everton match and the Disability Access
and Supporter Services team will continue to monitor the service after each game.
Status – action complete
Established a pick-up/drop-off point at Pudding Mill Lane station - There is now a pick-up
and drop-off point at the official Coach Park at Pudding Mill Lane. Supporters with
accessibility needs travelling on coaches or using Pudding Mill Lane station are welcome to
utilise this service before and after the game. The service travels between the Coach Park
and Car Park 1A
Status – action complete
Julie Pidgeon wrote to all disabled supporters with an update on accessible services in
January and will further update ahead of 2017/18
Status- action complete
Catering and concourse facilities
The 'Ribman' was assisted in finding a plot on Stadium Island – Status – action completed
The Club will continue to help facilitate any requests between interested former Green
Street traders and caterers Delaware North.
Shelving installed in the concourse area - Shelving has been installed in the concourse areas
of every stand. Shelves are positioned in the North, East and South Stands under every
second staircase and in the West Stand around the glass walls surrounding the staircases to
the Upper tier. Phase two of installation is planned for the new season.
Status – action complete however supporters stated further shelving was required so status
for further enhancements remains open
Adjusting the ratio of male/female toilet facilities - There are two circles of toilet facilities on
the concourse area, an outer ring (nearer turnstiles) and inner ring (nearer gangways). All
female toilet facilities on the outer ring have now been changed to male and signage has
been covered. This was communicated in our recent 'Feedback Article'.
Status – action complete.
Routes to and from London Stadium
Changing routes on matchday for 2016/17
TW explained that egress routes may change for higher category matches depending on the policing
and safety operation. E.g. the Police may be present at Bridge 3 after the match to support safe
walking routes for both home and away supporters.
There have also been some unprecedented situations that have required the alteration of routes
such as the gas leak at the Aquatics Centre that forced Bridge 5 to close. The Club will continue to
keep fans reliably informed of any changes and as early as possible across all channels – particularly
the Matchday Guide.
Entry and exit to London Stadium
Solutions to ease congestion at East Stand turnstiles. Emails and text messages were sent to
all East Stand ticket holders on a match by match basis to advise of the turnstile that would
provide quickest means of access to their seat. A prominent arrive early message has also
featured in the Matchday Guide and pre-match email.
Additional security wands to speed up efficiency of search process
Revised process is more family friendly
Founders Wall visit can be arranged if required
TW confirmed Brendan Burke and Jake Heath went to view the Founders Wall at Brendan's request.
Anyone experiencing the same issue can contact Jake for further assistance. Status – action
Improve egress - Keeping late kiosks open and communicated their location. Status – Action
Permitted and prohibited items featured in Matchday Guide. Status – action completed
Supporter Liaison and Flag initiative
Continuing the expansion of the full-time Supporter Services team and Matchday SLO
initiative - Team will play a key role in the supporter experience next season
Status action completed
Locations for flags to be displayed are being explored but flags will remain on 'the ears' until
a Naming Rights partner is found unless otherwise advised by LS185
SW asked about the average queuing time for the Shuttle Buses.
TW confirmed that since 18 shuttle buses had been added in egress, there was no queue at all for
the buses – the average waiting time was only to allow the Safety officer to say it was safe for
the segregation barriers to open. The average waiting time for this across the season had been 20
minutes – however, JH confirmed that this had been reduced to nine minutes for the last three
JP added that the feedback on the shuttle buses recently has been phenomenal and that the service
has come on leaps and bounds.
Brendan Burke (BB) asked why shuttle buses couldn't go to Pudding Mill Lane previously and JH
confirmed that construction works meant that it had not been possible previously to access it which
is now no longer the case. TW added that as infrastructure continues to develop the journey is
One member raised an issue about the shelving that has been erected around concourses and
suggested that more was needed.
Nick Kendall (NKen) confirmed that shelving is present in all concourses, but that phase two of the
project was still to be finalised and the Club are working with LS185 to have more shelving agreed in
time for the new season.
NKen added that health and safety issues had to be considered when installing shelving –
particularly to ensure that the height and location of the shelving wouldn't be a risk to children, but
that suitable areas had been identified and the Club would continue to work with LS185 over the
summer to complete phase two.
One member asked how the club communicate with supporters about public transport closures or
issues before matches, and JH confirmed that such information is always provided in a travel update
article on the official website and added to the Matchday Guide.
JH then added an update on steps that had been taken to ease congestion at East Stand turnstiles,
including emails and text messages sent to supporters reminding them to arrive early, particularly
for midweek matches.
On the subject of viewing the Founders Wall, JH and MT both confirmed that before and during
matches it is possible to walk around the concourse to view the wall.
TW again confirmed that all information is available in the Matchday Guide, including what kiosks
are open after the game if supporters wish to buy refreshments.
TW added that the Matchday Guide is published on every matchday, while it is also emailed to all
match-attending supporters, and encouraged SAB members to share with fellow supporters and
SW asked about the segregation barriers on the podium and if they were likely to be removed at
some point in the future. MT confirmed the situation is under constant review.
TB asked if it was possible for the ramp across the barriers to be made easier for wheelchairs and
mobility scooters to navigate, as suggested by Pete Smith of LS185 at the DSAB meeting. MT
confirmed he would raise the matter with PS immediately.
On the flag initiative SW asked where the flags will be located next season.
TW confirmed that given there was currently not a Naming Rights partner it was her understanding
that the flags could remain adjacent to the big screen.
MT confirmed that the mid-tier flat fascias around the stadium will have digital wrap screens
installed on June 5 but that, with a naming rights partner yet to be confirmed, the flags can continue
to be hung across the 'ears' of the scoreboard big screens. Should that situation change, supporters
would be advised as soon as possible.
CB asked about the screens on the concourse and asked if the early lunchtime match or other sports
channels could be displayed in order to encourage supporters to get into the stadium earlier.
TW explained that the Club had bought the licence from Sky and passed to MT who accepted that
the content on screens is far from ideal for supporters and that the situation is under ongoing
TW provided an update ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships taking place this summer
at London Stadium, confirming it is likely that the first couple of Premier League fixtures might be
played away from home, but that nothing can be confirmed until fixtures are known.
TW also emphasised the fact that this year is a one-off situation as part of the contract, with the
2017 World Athletics Championships a once-in-a-generation event, which West Ham United have
embraced as a celebration of the Olympic legacy at the stadium. It is the only event of its kind
contracted in this way she confirmed with the Clubs priority to play its matches always taking
precedence for the next 98 years.
A clean stadium is required for the event, however she confirmed that the Stadium Store and Ticket
Office remain open for business as normal throughout the summer.
Supporters asked whether the retractable seats would be improved in near future.
TW confirmed that in relation to the retractable seating at London Stadium, with the issue of how
quickly it moves in and out being an issues for the events outside of football and the number that
could take place in the summer due to turnaround times but added that it was not an issue for West
Ham United . In its permanent format throughout the football season, the seating is in the position it
was originally designed to be. There was a discussion around the quality of the sightlines and the
fact there are no restricted view seats and members made positive comments around the sightlines.
It was later asked what happened to the skate to move them quickly TW confirmed that skate
system had been used at start of the 2016/17 season to get seats ready in time for the Club's first
match in the Europa league.
The issue was raised as to whether the Club would ever see a match on Boxing Day again whilst at
London Stadium. SG said this was ultimately a decision for the Premier League.
It was suggested that this was a Club decision and TW confirmed that the decision was ultimately
that of the Premier League taken on advice from all stakeholders and that it was unlikely that West
Ham United would always request to play away from home on Boxing Day. The league's final
decision would take into account the views of other stakeholders, but most importantly the police,
who would always consider the public's safety as a priority in the context of the high volume of
traffic at Westfield on that day.
SW added that the Premier League will always take into account the views of all stakeholders.
TW gave an update on actions that had been tasked to the Club regarding transport links for
supporters travelling to and from London Stadium:
The Club had met with TfL at Stratford to discuss the station layout and operation on
matchdays. The ticket barrier and hallway barrier systems raised at the last meeting were
TW confirmed and improvements were taking place and would soon be finalised.
The supporter journey through Stratford is dynamically assessed and is designed to alleviate
EVC Karren Brady has written to Abellio and South Eastern Railway to request more services
for our supporters on matchdays
SW asked about the Last Mile Strategic Group set up by LLDC and asked what impact it will have.
SG confirmed that any impact or changes to the last mile of transport routes will be via consultation
with us at the football club, and we support any changes that make the travel experience quicker
and more efficient.
Norman Collins (NC) asked where the club were in relation to the stadium capacity increase. TW
confirmed that West Ham United are still hopeful that capacity will be at 60,000 for next season.
TICKETING – RENEWALS AND RELOCATIONS
TW provided an update on Season Ticket renewals and explained in detail the process and priorities
for supporters wishing to relocate their seats for 2017/18:
Relocation process will take place between 1st June – 16th June
All requests are subject to seating availability – with renewal figures reaching a record level
it is vital that supporters are clearly aware of this.
Priority will be afforded to those with accessibility requirements and supporters who have
previously contacted us during the season with particular issues, including the supporters
moved from block 114 through out of necessity in order to widen the segregation line.
Season Ticket Holders will receive further information later this week.
SW asked about the current percentage of renewals ahead of next week's deadline.
NKey confirmed that, while it would be wrong to announce numbers while the renewal period is still
open, the average across the Premier League, is an 80% renewal rate. TW confirmed that the Club
will exceed this and added that this makes it very important to manage expectations on relocations.
With such a large number of people renewing – and those Season Ticket holders wishing to remain
in their existing seat obviously having the right to do so – relocation options may be limited.
SW then raised an issue regarding telephone calls coming from the Ticket Office without any club
official on the end of the line. NKey confirmed this was an issue caused by an automated dial-up
technology, and urged any supporters experiencing the problem to contact the Ticket Office
immediately and make them aware.
SW asked if the renewal deadline would be extended if the online facility crashed on deadline day as
it has done in the past.
NKey confirmed that the deadline could be extended if such extraordinary situation did occur, but
added that steps had been taken to avoid the problem, including increasing the bandwidth on the
Ticketmaster system and ensuring additional IT support.
One member enquired about the concessionary rates for younger supporters, based on the fact that
some – including his son – are still in full-time education beyond the age of 21 and therefore are
having to pay full adult prices for their season ticket despite not yet having a working wage as
NKey assured the member that ticket pricing strategy is something that is constantly reviewed, but
added that the Club's commitment to affordable family football means that an adult season ticket in
band 5 is available for £289, offering value for money in comparison across the Premier League.
TW added that the under 21 rate was introduced to expand beyond university students solely so any
young people, whether they be apprentices or trained in the workplace with limited income could
also benefit. The length of the concession however is under review.
As the meeting drew to a close, members raised a few other points outside of the main agenda
SW asked about pre-season fixtures and when they would be announced. TW confirmed that the full
schedule should be released shortly.
SW then asked for an update on Champions Place stones.
TW confirmed that 12,000 had been installed and that all stones purchased after April 2016 were
always due to be installed this summer as weather conditions and footfall would make it very
difficult for installation to take place during the season.
Despite the fact this was widely communicated, TW accepted it hadn't been very well understood.
TW also acknowledged that the Club could understand the frustrations of supporters over the
inability to confirm an installation date. The Club she added, have been pushing for this on a daily
TW confirmed that, where this had been unacceptable to supporters, refunds had been given and
the Club were happy to do so if this was required. However, she hoped supporters would bear with
the Club and that the situation would hopefully be resolved during the summer.
Lee Vehit (LV) asked if there was an update on the potential naming of bridges approaching the
stadium on the Olympic Park.
TW confirmed that the Club were continuing to put forward proposals and request clarification over
the situation, as the Club are aware that it is something very important to supporters.
NKh asked about the Champions statue currently located at the Green Street-Barking Road junction.
TW confirmed that, to the best of her knowledge, the Champions statue would be coming over to
London Stadium in the future. This had also been confirmed by Newham Council in a different
context at a meeting with Barrett when discussing the legacy of the Boleyn Ground.
TW ended the meeting by thanking everyone for making such a valuable contribution and providing
such constructive feedback and ideas that West Ham United could act upon quickly, and reiterated
the club's absolute commitment to the SAB format and moving it forward in a positive fashion.
All members will be invited to reapply for the 2017/18 season, and the hope is that the SAB will
continue to grow, with future members representing wider sections of the fanbase, in order to
identify and resolve the major issues that affect a larger number of supporters.
TW also mentioned how pleasing it was to have members on board who are representing larger
supporter groups, including Nigel Khan from WHUISA, Carol from the Pride of Irons group and Bev
Cornell, who represents a number of large Facebook fan groups.
Bev spoke about the four groups she represents on Facebook, including the Claret and Blue Army
that has 12,500 followers and Come on You Irons with 3,500 followers. The groups are very much
focused on families and used by parents bringing children to matches.
TW added how proud the Club were to see Pride of Irons representing West Ham United at Pride
London, while Carol spoke about how closely the group are working with the Club on issues affecting
them, including looking ahead to the fixture against Brighton next season and how supporters can
be educated on the issue of homophobic abuse, which is something that Brighton fans sadly face
more than any other club. Pride of Irons have already presented to the SLOs and have had some
fantastic feedback from that.
TW finished by expressing her pride at how the SAB had developed into such a positive initiative,
and her hope that going forward it becomes a truly representative forum for the largest number of
supporters possible, with members representing large groups and each bringing their absolute top
two or three issues to the group that can be used to set the agenda and lead to the club investing
time, effort and money into improving the overall supporter experience for the benefit of all.
Randolph relishing US return
Darren Randolph is looking forward to seeing old family and friends after being included in Republic of Ireland's final 19-man squad for a friendly international with Mexico on Thursday. The Boys in Green travel to New York on Monday 29 May before tackling Mexico at MetLife Stadium – the home of the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets – in neighbouring New Jersey on Thursday 1 June. The West Ham United goalkeeper will then return to Dublin on Friday ahead of a second friendly international with Uruguay at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday 4 June. The third, final and most important of Ireland's three summer matches will take place at the same venue on Sunday 11 June, when Ireland host a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Austria.
"We've had a few days training in Cork and now we fly to New York for a game against Mexico, then back to Dublin for a game against Dublin, then finally we finish with a World Cup qualifier against Austria," Randolph confirmed. "It's recognition and the two friendly games are preparation for the World Cup qualifier, where we're in a good position in our group, joint-top with Serbia. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for Russia next summer."
The son of an American father who moved to Ireland to play professional basketball, Randolph is relishing a return to the US, where he was part of the Ireland squad which lost 3-0 to Spain at Yankee Stadium in New York in June 2013. "We got to go a few years ago to play Spain in Yankee Stadium, which was a good game to play in but we didn't touch the ball – I think possession was like 83 per cent to them!" he smiled. "It'll be good to go over. Obviously, my family are from that side of the Atlantic and friends and family who live close will probably want to come to the game as well."
With so many Irish and Mexican expatriates and fans whose ancestry hails from the two countries, the atmosphere at the home of the NFL's New York Giants and Jets should be good.
"It should be!" Randolph confirmed. "When we played Spain in Yankee Stadium, there were about 70,000 people who came to watch the game, so I'm expecting similar numbers for this game."
After tackling Mexico, the Hammers No1 will then travel home to tackle Uruguay's star-studded forward line, which is set to include Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, who have 85 international goals between them. "There are no easy games and that goes for Uruguay in Dublin, too," he said. "The last time we played Uruguay, their front three was Suarez, Cavani and Diego Forlan, so I'm waiting to see what their front three is for this game!"
Randolph's West Ham teammate Declan Rice, who was called-up by Ireland manager Martin O'Neill to train with the senior squad for the first time in Cork last week, has been left out of the final 19-man squad for the trip to New York. The Republic of Ireland versus Mexico friendly will be screened live in England by Premier Sports, with kick-off at 1am BST on Friday 2 June.
Hammers linked with Juve star
Filed: Monday, 29th May 2017
By: Staff Writer
Juventus star Kwadwo Asamoah is being linked with a move to the Premier League. According to reports from Italy, both West Ham and Southampton have made tentative enquiries into the 28-year-old's situation at Juve. Asamoah, who can operate on the left side of midfield, at wing back or as an attacking central midfielder is under contract with Juve for a further 12 months but is thought to be surplus to requirements at the Juventus Stadium.
* Elsewhere today West Ham are being linked with a multi-million pound move for Sunderland's highly-rated goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The 23-year-old former England Under 21 international is certain to leave the Stadium of Light this summer but is unlikely to move for a fee less that £20million, having impressed between the sticks for his club last season.
* The odds on summer transfer target Kelechi Iheanacho joining West Ham this summer have shortened to 1/4 today following recent news of West Ham's interest. The 20-year-old Nigerian is expected to leave Manchester City during the off season, with the Hammers one of several parties looking to sign the talented young goalscorer.
* Robert Snodgrass is being linked with a move away from West Ham - just five months after leaving Hull to join the Hammers in a £10million switch.
According to reports newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion are intersted in landing the Scottish international, who will almost certainly be allowed to leave for the right price.
Zabaleta thanks Manu
Filed: Monday, 29th May 2017
By: Staff Writer
New signing Pablo Zabaleta has revealed that he was persuaded to sign for West Ham after having a chat with Manuel Lanzini. The former Manchester City full-back signed in as Slaven Bilic's first recruit of the summer last week and has since revealed that it was the encouraging words of his fellow countryman that persuaded him to ignore several generous offers from around Europe. "I spoke a few times with him," Zaba told the Mail. "Manu is one of the main players for this club and for the team; hopefully I can meet him as a team mate very soon. "When West Ham showed interest in signing me I spoke to Manu because it was a good opportunity for me to have some information about the club, especially from someone inside. "He told me really good words about everyone at the club, said that he was enjoying himself as a West Ham player and enjoying life in London, so it was good for me to have that information to help me make my final decision.
"And of course I'm so happy to see Manu doing well," he added. "I think he had an incredible season and is in the squad for the national team, which is really good for him."
The first brick in the wall
Filed: Sunday, 28th May 2017
By: Paul Walker
With apologise to Pink Floyd, our new signing Pablo Zabaleta is not another brick in the wall, he is the first of a significant rebuilding process.
I've heard all the stuff about his age, the wages, the condition of his legs from our fans…all nonsense. He is a player from a different level, and frankly there is not a player on our books who we can say that about.
He may be 32, but I don't know a Manchester City fan---and I know a lot--who think his legs have gone. He may not be what he was at his peak when City won the title in 2012, but he played 32 first team games for City last season, 17 from the start, which is a darned sight more than a few of our lads managed last term!
He could have stayed at the Etihad, but he knew it would be as back-up, and he needed to play. He has suffered because City are a such a different level to us. Pep Guardiola has hugely demanding high standards, he dumped England's goalkeeper because he felt that Joe Hart could not play football.
And Guardiola now wants something very different from his full backs. They must be high-speed attackers as well as defenders, they have to cover the whole flank at constant pace. And play at the very highest level. Zabaleta could not offer that any more.
It doesn't mean he cannot play a major part in our defence, a true warrior of a man idolised by the City faithful. Of course he can. Sam Byram, if he is not loaned out, will learn a lot from the Argentinean.
And I sense Slav wants to play Zabaleta behind Michail Antonio down the right flank, giving our new Hammer of the Year license to surge away on those powerful, dangerous runs without fear of being exposed out of position that happened so often when he was playing right back.
As for his wages, reckoned to be approaching £100,000 a week, but we are told with a sensible basic so as not to upset the squad wage scale. Don't forget that he is a free transfer and we have just dumped Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore and Alvaro Arbeloa.
All three contributed precious little to our cause last term and will not be missed. Their wages probably added up to around £120,000 a week. Cant really argue with that as an exercise in budget control.
I feel that Zabaleta's arrival is the beginning of a new approach to our transfers. Slav made a telling remark recently when he suggested we wasted too much time last summer going for targets we could not really expect to acquire.
Younger players in their mid 20s and already playing Champions League or European football regularly, will not drop down a level. We learned that to our cost, and Bilic reckons we missed a lot of our second and third choices because of that approach.
What we have now is a player of vast experience at a level none of our players have really experienced. And his arrival could be the one deal that persuades a few others to take the risk on the Irons, a risk nobody wanted to take last summer.
You have to sell the plan, you have to convince better quality players that European football is possible. Last summer our owners rattled on about reaching the Champions League just because we finished seventh the season before and we had a shiny new 60,000 seater stadium.
We still won't be at 60,000 next season, anyway. But big stadiums don't automatically produce European football. Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa, you get my point.
It has to be a much calmer, considered approach than last summer. Yes, mistakes were made but we did try our best to acquire players from a higher level.
And you know what? I sense a different approach this time around. Last season we kept being told that David Sullivan, Slav and Tony Henry all had lists of players they fancied and all transfers had to be written off by all three.
I sense Slav did not really like that. Few managers would. This summer we have heard little from Sullivan, in fact for much of last season. And Henry has been on the club website explaining how the scouting process works.
But Slav rebelled a bit against the previous system. He didn't want Scott Hogan in January despite plenty of pressure. He wanted to save the money for the summer. He didn't want players that did not appreciable improve his squad just for the sake of it.
And we hear that all the pressure about replacing his backroom staff has gone away. It looks like the board are giving Bilic his head, allowing him to make the judgements. I may be wrong, but it certainly looks that way.
There's another way of looking at that. He could be being set up to fail, let's face it if we start next season in the same vein as last and are no better off by Christmas, he will be gone. And the board will be able to say that they backed his decisions and it hasn't worked.
Sullivan has to be involved. He's the owner. He should do the negotiations and the deals. But Bilic seems unimpressed with some of the players he has been offered.
Lets face it. Slav should take control. It's his team, his dressing room, his training ground. If it all goes pear-shaped, then the board have every right to sack him. That's their role, but let's see how this summer goes with Slav at the sharp end.
There are clearly going to be more new faces. Zabaleta , it seems, may be able to persuade Kelechi Iheanacho to follow him from the Etihad. Just the sort of bright, young striker we need.
We hear also that Marseille will try to get Andre Ayew, and I hope if that happens we screw every last Euro out of them, after their disgraceful tapping up of Dimitri Payet. As long as we do not end up by selling Manuel Lanzini, anything but that.
Slav wants 'game changers' not squad players. He wants power, pace and athleticism. We so badly lacked all of that last term.
So let's welcome Zabaleta with open arms, and wait to see the next bricks in the wall needed to make up for what has been a wasted, troubled season.
It ended with a solid victory at Burnley, and 11th spot, with a team missing eight senior players, nine if you included Payet. And I still do, sorry, such has been the damage caused too our season by his departure.
I had promised the editor a clever, meaningful piece (he was heard to mutter, 'that would be a change') about our season. Not something I felt like writing after this week's dreadful terrorist attack.
As you may have worked out over the months, I live just outside Manchester and worked in the city for 30 years. A lifelong Londoner I will always be, with my wife feeling that I have an obsessive interest in the old East End and my father's legacy.
She may be right, and when you have been away from home for as long as I have, that intensity heightens. But I have grown to love Manchester, my home now for over 35 years.
Last Sunday me and the lad went to Burnley, using Manchester Victoria to get there, where Burnley CC were their usual outstanding hosts!
It was a beautiful, sunny day, Victoria has been rebuilt with its Victorian architecture carefully restored and blended into the impressive new complex that links the metro to the main line stations and then on into the Manchester Arena concourses. We had a beer there and discussed how nice it all looked, having only just been opened.
Less than 24 hours later it was a very different place. There were hundreds of West Ham fans who used that station last weekend, and we all enjoyed ourselves and the trip up to Lancashire's old cotton towns. It was hard to take it what happened so soon after.
So I am sure the editor and you lot out there will forgive my lack of enthusiasm for meaningless, football chatter this week.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
It's not just the hope that kills you, it's the 'spin' as well
Filed: Sunday, 28th May 2017
Blame the Board? T'was ever thus. West Ham 'Boards' have generally NEVER treated West Ham fans with respect.
Back in the early 70s, not sure of the year, in one particular match day programme was a message from 'The Board'. It was all our fault (us fans), we had not been supportive enough, we needed to get behind the team more AND to stop moaning.
After years of unstinting adoration from us fans - despite being served up general mediocrity since the glory years of '64, '65 and ahem, '66 - the obvious lack of respect and lack of gratitude being dumped on us once more from a great height by 'The Board' was bad enough to make some of us feel like not wanting to go, ever again. Put up and/or shut up. All of this 45 years or so ago. So there's nothing new.
Except perhaps an athletics stadium.
Now (as I don't need to tell you dear reader), us West Ham fans have always been (and presumably always will be) amongst the most loyal of football supporters. Anywhere. (Apart from the perenial boo boys, of course - new thread needed). If you're West Ham, you're West Ham for life.
We're not glory hunters. We knew we were probably never going to challenge for the title but just being in the top flight, occasionally beating and upsetting the 'top teams' and always being in with at least a hope of a good cup run (and even winning the FA Cup three times), we were happy.
All this, mind, because 'The Board', every Board, never, ever wanted to spend more than the bare minimum to stay safe. Even relegation-threatened seasons gave us real excitement even though we craved the safety of mid-table mediocrity. Even actual relegation seasons came with the promise of an exciting, successful season to come, at some point in the near future.
If West Ham ended up playing home games on Wanstead Flats many of us would still go. You can't kill a love that strong (although this season some people have really tried, unintentionally). I suspect that this undying loyalty has often been used against us.
2016/17, a season of two separate problems (Part 1)
The Move aka 'The Emperors New Clothes' (The king was in the altogether, the altogether, the altogether...)
We'd got a new Board back in 2010. DG, DS and KB. At least DG and DS were wealthy - nothing like Roman A wealthy, but still. Gold and Sullivan claimed to be lifelong West Ham fans; something that unfortunately also ensured that we got sucked into the Olympic Stadium move.
Except we didn't quite get that DS especially, was a businessman FIRST and a WHU fan second (no, not quite true, some of you did). I don't know if KB even likes football. Are we just a real life fantasy football team game to them? Go on, prove us all wrong.
We were told we were going to move. We kept saying we didn't want to move. They refused to (or didn't want to) listen. We said if it's going to be anything like the old Wembley, it'll be fucking awful. So far away from the pitch, we might as well watch it on the telly. We were spun the following:
"We'll have more status and prestige if we move to the OS"
How exactly does that benefit us? Prestige doesn't win games. Not worth a fuck, unless you're on The Board and have pound signs in your eyes for the future sale of the club.
"Without us the stadium would lose money"
So what? Absolutely nothing to do with us and no reason for us to move there.
"We'll attract better players to the OS"
Yes, that's right, players ALWAYS come and stay for the ground, it's never the money (which is from Sky largely, not the increased capacity).
"We'll rebrand the club" (mainly it appears so far, by putting the word LONDON on the badge)
Who decided we needed rebranding? Don't answer that. We didn't need rebranding. What part of E6 or E13 wasn't in London?
"We'll have a bigger capacity of at least 55,000 at the OS" (which will let us buy better players and achieve more success)
What, like Newcastle? Chelsea are averaging 42k this season and have been in all their recent glory years.
"Even though we've got planning permission and space to fully renew the East Stand/Chicken Run, we can't have over 40,000 trying to get to and from the Upton Park ground"
Really? Why not? How's that going at the OS? How's that long depressing walk? Better? No, not really.
"We'll make changes to the OS"
You can't polish a turd. Well, you can but it's still a turd.
"It's only teething problems at the OS"
Shane MacGowan's got fewer teething problems...
All of it 'management speak' to DG, DS and KB but to you and me, BS.
No one ever said Upton Park was a fortress. Christ, we saw some dire games and performances there over many, many years. Just like this season. We also as well always had our share of violent, antisocial scumbags, not there for the game.
Increase the capacity what did you think would happen? Scumbag quotient the same? Or less?
WE KNOW WE CAN'T GO BACK. But it doesn't mean we have to like the new place. At all.
If you're in the E6/E13 area and can face it, go and look at what remains of the old place while the West Stand is there still, or even if it's now gone. Marvel at how the hell did we ever once get over 42,000 people in there playing sardines, in such a small place.
The atmosphere, the singing. I dare you not to get a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye. Aside from all of your memories of heroes gone and loved ones no longer with us, four words might come to mind: WHAT A FUCKING DISGRACE.
How could you have done it? Shout it out loud, HOW COULD YOU HAVE FUCKING DONE IT? A West Ham fan FIRST wouldn't have done it. I just don't think you understand.
I don't blame the fans for one second. Wanting to watch our team and with a begrudging hope that we had to move on to have any chance to improve, you got on board and bought OS season tickets. As loyal as ever. It might work.
Like we ever had a choice. Spurs wanted the site; PLEASE let them have it. Barry Hearn didn't want us there; PLEASE let him win his case. If both of their legal teams couldn't have stopped it, nothing was ever going to stop it, was it?
Rival fans think we've lost our soul and have become a laughing stock. Message alert to rival fans: We know, we agree, you're correct.
Except they're not. We lost our home. What choice did we have? Us fans had no choice at any time or in any way. Were we ever asked if we wanted to move? Was there a vote on it? Apparently 'there was' AND one on changing the badge. So it IS all our fault...
It was not completely about us not liking change (always the line thrown at you when those in charge want change), it was about us not wanting a change to something not as good as what we already had and had built up, for 112 years.
In hindsight, and with 20/20, the ONLY thing we could have done would have been to completely boycott every home game when the OS move was being discussed and we weren't being listened to. As business people it would have been the only thing they understood - the bottom line.
Unfortunately, I don't think it could have been organised or carried out. Would it have changed their minds anyway, once they'd got their eyes on the prize? Could it be done at the OS? What would be the point now? What would it achieve now? We fans would still get the blame.
The trouble was, unlike a purpose-built football ground, a move to the OS was a gamble - unless you had an agenda to one day sell the club with its shiny new ground, for a tidy profit. It was a gamble that the Board put their house on, except that it was OUR house, Upton Park.
Look at the photos on the KUMB Forum's 'Farewell to the Boleyn' thread and imagine the East Stand/Chicken Run with a huge new stand. Wow, now THAT would have been some ground. And still with all its history intact.
You wouldn't have minded so much spending £1,100 on a season ticket there. Not so at the E20 monstrosity. Which we can only play at when someone else isn't using it; like at the beginning of next season.
WE didn't NEED a new ground, we just needed more money for better players. What a gamble.
A sensible approach (as someone on here mentioned) might have been to hold off selling Upton Park for a couple/few years and renting it out to Chelsea or Spurs for a nice little earner, whilst seeing how it went at the OS. They never would have done it, would they? Especially not with all that lovely money from the sale of Upton Park.
2016/2017, a season of 2 separate problems (Part 2)
The Team aka how to piss off your own fans with bizarre player selections/positions/aquisitions...
At the start of the season we still had a genuinely world class player whom we loved and loved watching. On 20 August were told: "He loves the club and the fans love him. His family are settled and one of his boys is at the club academy. And just as important, his wife loves the life here in England. It is the perfect storm".
We all know what kind of storm it turned into. It started with an S.
I don't even hate the player. Well, apart from him showing a complete lack of respect to his team-mates, his boss and us his adoring fans. In his first few games back you could see he didn't want to be here. He stopped playing long before he stopped playing.
If you're not going to play even when you're playing, you're no longer any good for us, whoever you are. You might as well go as be held against your will. It was great for a while. One man does not maketh a team. Except Ronaldo. Or Messi. Or Neymar. Or Bale. Okay, okay, one man can make a team. Unless I missed it, one day we will know the truth why he wanted/needed out. Strange that he couldn't wait til the end of the season though.
Perhaps what upset us fans the most though was the secret fear that if one world class player didn't want to play/stay for us how are we going to attract any other world class players in the future? Hey ho, backwards and downwards...
Things we have learned in 2017
(or already knew but didn't want to remember/believe)
Players contracts are not worth the paper they are written on. Ditto, contract extensions. Player loyalty? Does it exist anymore? This isn't the 1970s with Trevor Brooking and his like.
Even if we give a player our undivided adoration it isn't enough to keep them here. Not in these days of lottery jackpot earnings. Which brings us nicely on to West Ham's transfer policy. Now, as you are all aware, the WHU Board's way has always mainly been to only buy top, top players when they are:
1) nearly dead
2) legs gone
3) One season away from the knacker's yard
4) seen better days and
5) therefore cheap
Step forward please: Jimmy Greaves, Stuart Pearson, Clive Allen, Ian Wright, Freddie Ljungberg, Liam Brady, Kieron Dyer, Robbie Keane, Davor Suker, Lee Chapman and many, many others you make wish to add. No wonder we've been linked with Rooney, he's now past it.
Okay, some of those mentioned gave us some fantastic moments and memories but you know what I mean, we never buy top players in their prime. And now, we sell them.
But DS and DG promised to completely change the old traditional West Ham transfer policy and they certainly did. This last few years we are mostly been buying younger average players. A complete change from the old, nearly dead, 'stars'. But not even as good and not even cheap.
So where does that leave us now? Apart from miserable, angry, depressed and looking longingly at the plans for the new purpose-built grounds Chelsea, Spurs and Everton, et al will one day get to play in?
Despite finishing 11th and 11 points above relegated Hull City we SERIOUSLY flirted with relegation this season, only really saving ourselves with a few very lucky wins and the famous Spurs victory. As usual, relying on enough other teams to be worse than us as the real reason we avoided relegation. You can't do that every season, your luck runs out in the end as it has for us in the past.
In terms of our future success, apart from not playing at Upton Park anymore, nothing else has changed, we are nowhere nearer to 'the next level', and the same old perennial questions remain:
* Is the current manager any good?
* Are we going to sign any good players in the summer?
* Are our current players including recent signings going to be better next season?
* Are our younger players good enough to step up to be first team/squad regulars?
* Why did so many players get so many injuries this season? (Dicks 'aint joining in the actual training games, is he?)
Reasons to be cheerful
We're still in the Premier League. At the moment we've still got some players who are half decent and who we like. We might even buy some team-improving players in the summer (though I'm not holding my breath on that, expecting more short-termism, Saga members to join).
At least we're not in the Europa Cup next season. That's an absolute blessing when you consider the harm it usually does us. As a reward it seems a poisoned chalice.
I hope for better performances/results next season as we all do but I'm not going to expect it, whoever we might buy, unless it is a world class player or we just get lucky. And the chances of that? I can't say they're good, but you never know.
The good news is that Board and owners are not here forever, even though the Cearns family felt like they were. This current lot will one day go but they'll unfortunately still have left us with the OS. Thanks guys. We'll have to seriously try to persuade the new owners to build us, you know, a football stadium.
I do know there's a lovely large patch of grass called the Memorial Recreation ground near West Ham station. I could see a real future there one day.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
West Ham must adopt new mentality to end trophy drought, insist Pablo Zabaleta
New West Ham signing Pablo Zabaleta has urged the club to adopt a new mentality in their quest to win a first major trophy since 1980. The Hammers endured a difficult first season at the London Stadium and failed to build on the seventh place Premier League finish achieved in the 2015/16 campaign. Slaven Bilic's side also suffered an early FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City, whom Zabaleta represented for nine years before signing a two-year deal at West Ham earlier this month. The Argentine defender lifted three domestic trophies during his spell at the Etihad Stadium and is adamant his new employers must target Cup progress to bring success to east London. "It's time for this football club to have that strong, winning mentality to believe that you can achieve important things," Zabaleta told West Ham's official website. "With domestic competitions, of course the Premier League is hard, but the FA Cup and EFL Cup are about seven games, you need to perform well and it's only one game at a time, and that's the right and winning mentality you need to achieve. "This is something that I personally, from my point of view, think West Ham need to believe. As players, we can give the fans something to really enjoy. "It's all about being positive, working hard and showing commitment from the players."
At 32 years of age, Zabaleta's peak years are behind him. But the full-back is convinced he still has plenty to offer West Ham's cause. "I'm not a young player, but sometimes in football it's all about passion as well and that's something that I have still got inside me as a football player, to keep enjoying this wonderful professional. "I've been playing [a long time] and have experience in my whole career so it's good to come here and use my experience to help the young lads to continue to develop."