After our home defeat to Burnley in March, when a few supporters invaded the pitch and others protested angrily under the Directors’ Box, our chairman David Sullivan called for unity. His reasoning was that the team couldn’t survive if the fans were at war with the Club. Supporters could see the sense in that and an uneasy truce followed. We more than upheld our end of the bargain, put our lack of faith in the current board to one side and rallied behind the team as we limped over the line with the joint worst defensive record in the division.
And then that truce was broken, not by fans, but by Karren Brady. Her latest column took a side swipe at fans by blaming the largely self-induced problems at the London Stadium on “malcontents and keyboard warriors”. We are struggling to understand how fans expressing legitimate criticism can be held to blame for the stadium being unsuitable for football, or for the substandard stewarding, the lack of adequate policing, the mediocre catering or the way the whole move was mis-sold to supporters.
For some time now, Brady has appeared focused on her own brand ahead of West Ham, even inviting her Twitter followers to watch her new TV programme which was showing at the same time we were kicking off a vital televised home game against Stoke. Her part-time role at West Ham still commands just shy of a million pounds a year, yet her business interests away from West Ham continue to expand.
Her column managed to directly impact the team in January when Leicester refused to do business with us, and instead loaned Islam Slimani to relegation rivals Newcastle. This came as a result of ill-judged suggestions she made around the firing of Claudio Ranieri. Those comments caused the club reputational damage and unnecessarily hampered January’s recruitment efforts.
We are fed up of being treated dismissively when the club’s situation is crying out for dedicated leadership. Characterising that reasonable criticism as abuse misses the mark by a mile. WHUISA completely condemns personal abuse of any kind. We are proud that our club employs women in leading positions and has a ladies team that has been all-conquering this year. But that does not mean that Karren Brady’s statements should escape criticism when it’s due.
It was not West Ham fans who spoke of the Champions League and then assembled a team that spent just one day of this season in the top half of the table. The stadium is a huge problem and will only be solved by working closely with WHUISA and other fan groups to address the concerns of supporters. We, after all, represent the only people that actually pay to be there. Giving up this unnecessary and damaging column might help Karren to focus less on Brand Brady and more on West Ham United.
Chair - West Ham United Independent Supporters Association
WHUISA has launched a petition calling on Karren Brady to give up her Saturday newspaper column. The link to the petition can be found below: