I’m sorry, but there is no way this can be a band one ticket

The stadium is stunning but the ticket structure needs re-writing

Please believe me when I say that I really didn’t want the first piece I wrote about the new stadium to be critical. But, now that we’ve all had a chance to see exactly what it is we’ve signed up for, it is evident that there is a major problem that needs to be addressed immediately. In short, I think thousands of season ticket holders have been charged too much for their seats.

What’s more, I feel the owners should recognise their mistake and rectify matters quickly – thus saving supporters the dilemma of whether or not they should stay silent out of loyalty to the club, or speak up and risk the accusation of being divisive about our new home. Despite being opposed to the move from Upton Park, I went to the London Stadium really wanting to like the place – not just because I’ve lumped out 800 quid for a season ticket but because my son has convinced me that if his generation is to ever see West Ham enjoy the success that I have been lucky enough to witness in years gone by, the club needed to make a significant upgrade and this was the ideal opportunity to do so.

There is lots to like. Th e toilets, for example. I really approve of the toilets. On my first visit I was rather taken aback by the positioning of the tributes to the club’s greatest players that gave the impression the urinals had been named aft er West Ham legends, but I felt a lot happier when I was finally convinced I wasn’t being asked to relieve myself of an overpriced bottle of Heineken in the Martin Peters lavatory.

Th e challenge for the owners, once they decided to cash in on the huge financial benefits that went with the move to Stratford, was to do all in their power to make it not just a football stadium, but a stadium that was right for West Ham United Football Club and its army of peerless supporters. At the risk of sounding like the little boy who dared to suggest that the Emperor’s new clothes weren’t all they were cracked up to be, I believe there’s a long way to go on both counts.

Let’s start with the athletics track. Try as the club might by covering it up with green plastic sheeting and putting a few retractable seats on the outside lanes, there is no getting away from the fact that we have a running track where a running track ought not to be. They just don’t belong in football stadiums. The atmosphere at Upton Park was never the same after the West Stand development left supporters further from the playing area on both sides of the ground.

With the distance from the pitch that much greater at the new stadium, it’s hard to see how we can recreate the cauldron of passion that was once our trademark. Juventus and Bournemouth may not have been typical games, but the early indications weren’t overly encouraging. Juventus, in particular, was more like a family fun day than a football match.

There are those who claim we could bring back the fervour simply by getting off our arses. “Stand up if you love West Ham!” Of course we love West Ham, but we don’t have to be on our feet to prove it. In truth, the translation is: “Stand up if you love standing up”. And not everybody does – especially those who aren’t in the best of health or who have young children with them.

There are those who claim we could bring back the fervour simply by getting off our arses. “Stand up if you love West Ham!” Of course we love West Ham, but we don’t have to be on our feet to prove it. In truth, the translation is: “Stand up if you love standing up”. And not everybody does – especially those who aren’t in the best of health or who have young children with them.

It is seriously disappointing that the issue wasn’t addressed by attempting to persuade the Premier League to change its rule that prevents clubs giving over certain parts of the ground to supporters who prefer to stand. Before we left E13, in an exclusive interview with the editor of this publication, West Ham co-owner David Gold dropped the strongest possible hint that the club would consider the idea of “safe standing” once we moved.

He told David Blackmore: ‘We now don’t have the violence we once had and already what exists is unsafe standing. At Upton Park, we currently have unsafe standing that is illegal and anti-social. It’s time to give something back to the fans. ‘The fans who want to stand should be given an area to do so.

‘I’d be stunned if we don’t have some form of safe standing experiment soon. Let’s face it, it’s not very expensive to install and it’s safe, very safe, in fact it’s twice or three times safer than what we have at the moment.’ But, annoying though the standing question is for many, it is not the biggest problem that needs to be resolved. What must be addressed immediately is a matter that goes to the very heart of the relationship between owners and supporters: can their word be trusted?

Because the stadium was undergoing a major refurbishment when season tickets went on sale, we had to take Karren Brady’s word for it when she promised that the unseen seats we were buying were equivalent to the ones we had at the Boleyn Ground. Many people are clearly happy with their new seats. Others have every right to feel aggrieved that what they got was not what they were promised. I readily accept that I could have bought my season ticket sooner than I did.

And I can understand the business reasons that prompted the club to break an age-old tradition and offer those without a season ticket already a chance to buy before those who did have one had exercised their option. What I have difficulty with is whether or not what the “latecomers” were offered was equivalent to what they had before.

And I can understand the business reasons that prompted the club to break an age-old tradition and offer those without a season ticket already a chance to buy before those who did have one had exercised their option. What I have difficulty with is whether or not what the “latecomers” were offered was equivalent to what they had before.

What it shows, among other things, is that there are thousands of seats towards the back of the stadium that are either Band One or Two, even though the price cannot be justified by the view from up there, which has been likened to looking down from the loft on your kids playing Subbuteo. The back rows are Band Three seats at best. It could be argued that when the tickets went on sale the club did not appreciate how poor the view is from the back of the stadium.

But they should know now, and if they don’t Baroness Brady is welcome to join me for a future game. The back 20 rows, at the very minimum, should all be classified as Band Three seats and their occupants who paid Band One and Two prices given the equivalent refund. I’ve contacted the club to suggest that. At the time of writing I have yet to receive a satisfactory response. I’ll of course let you know if and when I get one.

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