Life long Hammers fan Robert Runciman was horrified to receive a letter from the club informing him that he was banned indefinitely from the London Stadium after he'd been identified throwing objects at the Burnley game. The letter was conclusive and offered no opportunity to appeal. Notwithstanding that, Robert contacted the club, told them that he had contacted WHUISA and was told the issue would be looked into.
In the meantime, Robert got in touch with us for advice. At that stage, all we could really do was tell him to sit tight until the club got back to him. Thankfully he didn't have to wait too long and on Tuesday he got a call back from the club advising him that he'd been banned in error, in a case of mistaken identity.
While Robert was obviously pleased about this, he remained upset at how the club managed the matter and asked if there was anything else he could do. With the help of the FSF's Case Worker, Amanda Jacks we drafted a follow up letter to both the club and stadium management company.
While we recognise and respect the right of the club to ban those who breach season ticket terms and conditions and are aware that they will meet with fans who find themselves banned to discuss their cases (which not all clubs do) our concerns about how these cases are managed are effectively in laid out in Roberts letter to the club.
We will keep you advised of any reply Robert receives and we very much hope this unfortunate case forces a review of the clubs procedures so other fans don't have to deal with stress and worry of finding themselves banned for something they didn't do.
If you are worried about this or any issue around stewarding or policing please get in touch with WHUISA...
Below is the email sent by Robert to the club drafted by WHUISA and the FSF
Dear Mr Sadler and Mr Illingworth
Thank you for your letter of 7 April informing me of an indefinite stadium ban due to my both being "...witnessed and recorded on CCTV.. throwing objects". On receipt of the letter I contacted the club and spoke with Dave Chaplin who, thankfully, has since informed me that this was a case of mistaken identity.
While I very much appreciate the swift attention to the matter, it did not prevent four days of extreme anxiety, even though I knew I was entirely innocent of the accusations against me.
I work in football and was very worried my employer would find out about this and that it may potentially put my job in jeopardy.
I was also extremely concerned that that the police may become involved, particularly given the well-publicised intentions of both the club and police to deal with those involved in disorder at the home game v Burnley.
Further, the quick resolution, does not compensate for missing the CFC game that I attended with my brother (whose birthday it was) on Sunday only to find I was denied access on the turnstiles. My brother didn't want to go in without me meaning we both missed the match in which we gained a valuable point in a passionate London Derby and also the tribute to Ray Wilkins. In total a day which was ruined cost us, including tickets, approximately £100.
I would also like you to consider that given the tone of the letter West Ham Utd Football Club and London 185 have effectively libelled me with an outright accusation (easily read as a statement of fact) that I committed a criminal act affording me no formal route of appeal.
For this, Mr Chaplin has offered a refund on both tickets that I gratefully accepted and also the opportunity to take a stadium tour. While I appreciate this offer, it is not one I have any interest in and I'd be grateful if you could consider another goodwill gesture.
Having said that, a goodwill gesture from the club is really secondary to my main concerns that I genuinely feel you should properly address due to my own experience and that of one other fan who, I understand, was also banned after a case of mistaken ID following the Burnley match.
To prevent others going through the same as me, I would be grateful if you'd give due consideration to:
1. Writing to fans who you are minded to ban informing them of an alleged offence or breach of ground regulations.
2. Checking that supporters you are banning have no current away tickets and if they have and you cancel them, informing them of that.
3. Explaining to the supporter that they may appeal the ban and advising them of that process, for example, whether or not you will afford them the opportunity of a personal meeting and access to CCTV and any stewards or witness reports.
4. If you are passing information about a club ban to the Met Police, then you make that very clear to anybody you contact.
I don't think that these are unreasonable requests and if you are not minded to change your procedures, I will give due consideration to referring this matter to the Independent Football Ombudsman.
I would also like to request that you:
1. Offer me a formal apology in writing
2. Confirm that you will destroy any and all records you have relating to this case.
3. If you did pass my details to the Met Police confirm in writing that you have formally advised them that I was involved in no wrong doing nor committed any criminal acts and that they should destroy their records accordingly. I'd appreciate confirmation that they have done this.
4. If you informed CFC why they should cancel my ticket or passed them any of my personal details, you also contact them advising that you were wrong in doing so and that they should destroy any information they may now hold about me.
4. Unlock my account immediately and confirm I may attend next Monday's game v Stoke City
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.