For the third time since our move to our new home, Karren Brady invited Blowing Bubbles to London Stadium along with other West Ham fan websites to help the club address any issues they might be missing.
The date had been fixed for sometime and it was unfortunate timing that as representatives from our magazine, KUMB, West Ham Fan TV, Sex, Drugs and Carlton Cole, and The West Ham Way arrived it was on the back of our poor form towards the end of November. Despite our embarrassing defeat away at Everton still firmly back in our minds, the mood in the room was surprisingly calm as Karren kicked off the meeting by making it clear she and the two Davids were as disappointed as we were at the situation we found ourselves in.
From there, we discussed the playing staff , and even though Karren immediately dismissed any involvement with the team herself, she was in agreement that, at the end of November, it just wasn’t good enough and the club were doing all they could to put it right. This followed on to players having a relegation release clause and Karren confi rmed that none do. Winston Reid had one but that was taken out.
To her credit, Karren was very open, responsive, and gave us very detailed explanations to every question everyone asked her, which covered Financial Fair Play rules in the Premier League, club debt, income, and ticketing.
CLUB DEBT: Karren said the club’s ‘debt’ currently stands at £50m. However, West Ham United football club is clear of all debt, she told us. The ‘debt’ was transferred from the West Ham United accounts in to another business which eff ectively means its being used as an ‘overdraft’, as opposed to ‘being in the red’ so to speak. As we all know, using an overdraft also comes with interest and this interest currently stands at 3 per cent.
INCOME: The club are obviously generating a greater income to that at the Boleyn Ground since moving to the London Stadium. Karren was adamant that the income is being put back into the club for player wages, renewing contracts, bigger transfer budgets, improving Rush Green training ground, etc
TRANSFER POLICY: Potential players coming in to the club was confirmed as a joint effort collectively between the manager, David Sullivan, Tony Henry, and scouts. However the manager has the absolute final say on any transfer dealings.
TICKETING: ‘Affordable football’ was the topic of discussion at this stage. The club currently have 10,000 season tickets at £99 each. Should the worst happen and we get relegated, ticketing all over the stadium will be reduced. Karren also confirmed that the season ticket waiting list stands at 50k. There was talk about speaking to Chelsea and looking at ways to put on away trains solely for fans
STADIUM MODIFICATION: There are no current plans for any structural modification to the London Stadium. However there is a long term plan in place to square off the arches at the front of the stands, and fi ll the voids in the corners. The club have also dismissed the idea of claret Astroturf surrounding the pitch because it was too expensive as “rubbish”. The LLDC will only comply with the club if the surrounding Astro turf is ‘London stadium blue’, which the club will absolutely not go ahead with as its Tottenham’s colours. The club are making a genuine attempt to have this overturned and are extremely confident in doing so. The Bobby Moore statue is expected to be removed from Upton Park and will be at the London stadium as of next season. A location for it is yet to be decided.
BOLEYN CASTLE RETURN: The club are open to the idea of the castle returning to programmes and on the walls. Stencils on the side of the stadium, or having a castle feature hanging inside the concourse are being discussed, but not confirmed. Timelines of our history may appear outside and pictures in the ground from great days gone by.
FUTURE FIXTURES COINCIDING WITH ATHLETICS: Future home fixtures at the London Stadium will no longer coincide with athletics. Future Boxing Day home fixtures haven’t been ruled out either.
MUSEUM MEMORABILIA: The memorabilia from the museum at the Boleyn Ground is in storage. Ideas and locations around the London stadium are currently in discussion for its use.
ACCESS TRIALS: Access to the London Stadium is constantly being trialled at home games for supporters and disabled supporters. Westfield has agreed to allow disabled supporters to travel through the shopping centre to make their journey easier. Finally, the board take full responsibility regarding mistakes that were made during the transition to the new stadium. Brady acknowledged that the 95 per cent of fans happy with the stadium stat was just a throwaway figure mentioned by David Sullivan in a Sky Sports interview and wasn’t based on any research.