WHUISA attended the clubs Emergency Supporters Advisory Board (SAB) on Monday 26th March 2018. Below are the notes from WHUISA's attendance:
Emergency SAB 26/3/18
Two members from WHUISA attended the emergency SAB on Monday night. The main business of the meeting was trying to get some feedback and messages out off the back of the Burnley match.
Karren Brady was there as were reps from LS185, the Met and various stadium and ops people from West Ham. They pulled a bit of a surprise by bring Sir Trevor Brooking along; more of which later.
KB started off with a statement about the trouble at Burnley, she said 20 supporters have been banned; they are people who have either entered the pitch, have been caught throwing missiles or violent aggression to West Ham staff or others.
She says she expects prison sentences and that those guilty will face the full force of the law “to send a message to others”.
There will be enhanced security including police but Graham Harris from LS185 promised it would be proportionate with “no snatch squads” or bouncers looking to pull people out, it would not be confrontational.
We asked about the quotes that had appeared in the press and who had supplied them.
Specifically about the large number attempted pitch invasions, organised violence and hundreds of incidents of serious disorder.
Both the Police and the West Ham reps on the Newham Safety Advisory Group (SAG), so three people, said they didn’t recognise those figures. Those details went against what was presented to the SAG and no-one had briefed the higher number. WHUISA asked who did bearing in mind they were on the BBC Sport website hours after. West Ham and the Police say they didn’t come from them; LS185 reps didn’t comment.
We still don’t who leaked/briefed the false information.
Police/WHU said they reported to the SAG that there were 12 attempted incursions and 41 incidents. Some of those incidents were minor such as the releasing of black balloons and a small boy getting lost. Again both during the meeting and after, they rejected the idea that it was organised.
KB said there are people who wanted to push the narrative that West Ham fans were out of control and that no stewarding situation could have controlled the situation, she didn’t believe this to be true and a robust plan was in place for Southampton.
LS185 who oversee the stewarding tried to reassure people. They said disabled fans would be better protected and that all stewards had a NVQL2 in spectator safety. Someone pointed out that the stewards at the Burnley game would have had this qualification and they weren’t very good. Several people pointed out examples of poor stewarding including some stewards walking past people coming on and off the pitch. (Since then the news has come out about disabled fans being moved from in front of the directors’ box. Despite the Disabled rep on the SAB and West Ham’s disabled exec both being there, this wasn’t mentioned).
Karren Brady talked about her meeting with the Mayor earlier in the day. She was very guarded as you may expect but said “at least we’re talking” and that they would “probably” meet again soon. She said she think Sadiq Khan “gets it” around the issues at the London Stadium but added it is “not easy for him politically” which I think she meant with regards to the pressure he is under for the London Assembly and beyond.
KB went on to say that the narrative is WHU is a rich premier league club and people outside think they should pay more. Although the rent is under three million, the stadium keeps £6m from catering and they have other income. The main problem is the cost of the athletics conversion, athletics don’t contribute.
KB said the SAB will be the only forum for meeting fans in the future, a point that was emphasised several times by both her and Tara Warren. When it pointed out that the SAB doesn’t have a lot of credibility with the people who wanted to protest, Karren Brady referred to her infamous letter but she said the protestors couldn’t agree, and that what they wanted was “something and nothing”.
Some of what they wanted was impossible and some of it was contradictory. When it was suggested that the cancellation of the match was a contributing factor to the events in the second half, KB said she had no role in that decision. “Some people seem to think I am a witch with magical powers”.
WHUISA asked about whether there would a proper appeals procedure for those banned as one person had already been the victim of mistaken identity; we didn’t really get a straight reply on that. It was also pointed out that the feeling some people were being made examples of, i.e. Bubbles and that could inflame tensions for the next game.
In terms of "re-branding" the SAB, WHUFC are looking to change the SAB with a new name, format and constitution.
Sir Trevor Brooking came along to ask for fans to get behind the team. He spoke very well and said honest things that would be uncomfortable for the board. He talked about if we go down “it all goes to pot” and we would have “20 thousand fans in a 60 thousand stadium”.
Any issues about a director of football or the manager can be addressed until the team’s status for next season has been confirmed.
He said he sympathises with the fans grievances but we need to park those for the next 6-7 weeks. 5 out of our remaining game are at home, it should give us an advantage, not sure that it the case. We need to lift the players.
The truth is when he speaks he does it with integrity and passion, we suggested he did something to camera ahead of the game for wider consumption.
There was a long chat about the various attempts to further West Ham brand the stadium, there will be more heritage themed areas on the concourses, the flags will continue. There was a long chat about music playlists. Details of these are in the clubs minutes.