So once again West Ham has found itself at the centre of a media storm – this is getting a bit too embarrassing now, David and David!
West Ham fans were filmed verbally abusing Muslim supporters who were praying in the stadium at the match against Manchester City and the club and fans have come across very negatively indeed. There are a few points I also want to discuss here. Firstly, did you know that £5 tickets were offered to community groups to get the local community involved with the club?
I personally was unaware of this and think that the club should have made it a much clearer that this was happening. I know that players often go and visit groups in the local area, but what I didn’t know was that they actually get offered cheaper tickets to matches. Now, normally I’d be all in favour of this and happy that the club are reaching out to locals but I don’t think it should have been offered for the Man City game.
Of course our fans who had paid full price for the match would be fuming that other people had been let in to this game for a fiver.
It’s a Category A match, meaning that tickets would be at their most expensive – £52 in this case. I’m all for letting people who wouldn’t normally go to matches attend at a discount, but surely this would work better against teams like Norwich City, for example, who wouldn’t necessarily be in as much demand – or as expensive for regular attendees.
If anything, I would have hoped the club would recognise that an expensive match being shown on TV would probably fail to sell out, and lower ticket prices accordingly. But that would probably be too much common sense for West Ham! Our ‘spokesperson’ Jack Sullivan has said that tickets were only given out to fill the stadium for Sky, tweeting: ‘The five pound ticket were a one off offer to the local community to fill empty seats for a TV game. Go to KUMB or WHU website for more detail.’ When I look at the official statement from West Ham, I don’t get the impression that this was a one off at all.
And if it genuinely was, I don’t understand why the club couldn’t randomly select members who hadn’t yet bought tickets and may have been priced out of going to the game to get the discount. I don’t blame the people that were chosen for going to the match – I personally feel that if I was offered £5 tickets to go and see Premier League football, I’d definitely take advantage of that.
However, there were reports of them cheering on Man City which was bound to wind up Hammers fans. And I must admit I’m really not sure a packed out football stadium was an ideal place for a prayer session. I’m not saying West Ham fans are innocent by any means, and it must be said that some have behaved appallingly.
There have been some disgusting tweets from Hammers fans over the last few days. One of the tamer ones to David Gold said: “why are you giving out free tickets to Asians. absolute disgrace.” To me, the anger falls into two categories – the fact that football fans who were not necessarily even West Ham fans were given cut price tickets to an expensive game, and the fact that they were Muslims.
The latter is unacceptable and just makes our fans look fickle and racist. I do think fans have a right to be angry about this match being the one chosen for the community project, as thousands of them had paid 10 times more than the £5 offer to watch it.
There should have been a lot more transparency about this and the club should probably have issued a statement as soon as their position was questioned, rather than two days after. Has the lesson been learnt? With our club, who knows?! I think that’s the bigger problem here – there have been a few issues recently that have made West Ham embarrassing, and it needs to get sorted out as soon as possible.