They came, they saw and now West Ham Ladies’ new co-chairmen hope to drive the Hammers forwards to conquer women’s football in England. The club announced the appointment of John Hunt and Stephen Hunt earlier this month and both have told Blowing Bubbles of their bold vision for the Hammers.
‘We want to have fun and we want everyone involved in the club to have fun too,’ Stephen said. ‘The Ladies are an important part of the West Ham United family and, with the move to the Olympic Stadium to look forward to, there are plenty of exciting times ahead. ‘There is plenty of work for us to do to achieve my dream of the Ladies becoming professional and we are focused on reviewing every aspect of the club so that next season all of our teams at every level benefits from improvement.
‘We want to build a club that is strong, well-run, well-structured, ethically run and we want to get into the Women’s Super League soon. I don’t think we will be in a position to get into the League next season – our focus right now is getting everything in place, winning games, winning trophies and winning the league.
‘From our point of view, one of our main priorities is to get more West Ham fans along to our games. In the men’s game, Premier League clubs get billions from TV revenue and some clubs get millions from involvement in European competitions but in the women’s game, the more fans who turn up to watch you play, the more money your club has, the more chance you have of bringing in quality players and inevitably, the higher up in the league you are.
‘There clearly is support out there for the Ladies – you just need to look at how many people are following them on Twitter but we need to harness this support. When I was growing up, when West Ham played away people went to see another local club play – I don’t see why West Ham fans can’t come along to watch to Ladies play on a Sunday if the men are away on the Saturday.’ Asked how they plan to increase the gate at Ladies home games, he continued: ‘West Ham is the biggest club in Essex and we need to be feeding these fans with more content about the Ladies, more pictures, and more videos.
‘We need to overhaul the website and celebrate the club’s history and just make sure we are putting out what fans expect to see when following a brand. ‘We aren’t aiming at any particular group but I think fathers and their daughters are a key market for us to tap into. We want to encourage them to come along to a few matches and if the Ladies put in good performances and their afternoon at the football is a thoroughly enjoyable experience then hopefully they will be hooked and keep returning and encourage their friends to come along too.
As for how both men decided to apply for their new roles, Hunt continued: ‘I’ve been following the West Ham Ladies for a while now and was keeping up-todate with how they were doing on Twitter. ‘My father and I had been looking around to get involved in some sort of project but we weren’t sure what and then we saw the club announce they wanted a new chairman and I knew this was for us.
‘My Dad is semi-retired now and between us we felt we could really help the club move forward. We both admit we don’t know much about running a football club but we’ve got a few friends who do and we’re asking questions of these people to help us get up to speed quickly. ‘Our original idea was to bring the commercial muscle to this club but already we can see our role is going to be much deeper than that. Our appointment is being seen as a chance to change direction, redouble efforts and push onto higher levels.’