One of the most annoying things about the coverage of West Ham’s recent protests has been having to listen to ill-informed pundits who claim the fans are only angry because the team is losing.
It’s true that football is a results business, and if we were in sixth place in the table instead of hovering above the relegation zone you wouldn’t have marches or fans running on the pitch or stealing corner flags. Had it been the Irons, and not Burnley, who had taken the lead on that fateful afternoon the goal would not have sparked the first pitch invasions or led to a spontaneous gathering in front of the directors’ box
However, the way the club has been run over the last few seasons has created a tinderbox of frustration amongst the West Ham support and our recent dip in form has been the spark that has allowed the whole thing to go up in flames. Before the club left Upton Park for Stratford there wasn’t much in the way of organised protests against the move. Some fans were dead against it from the start but the majority were willing to give it a chance.
It was seen as an opportunity to off er cheaper tickets, vastly improved transport links and the chance to go to the next level and compete. We knew London Stadium wouldn’t be the same as Upton Park, but Upton Park itself hadn’t been the same as it was since the West Stand was re-built and the ground went all-seater. The move was a price worth paying to move forward.
The problem has been that, while the fans did their bit and snapped up season tickets in unprecedented numbers, the board have simply not invested the cash required to make the move a success. In the first transfer window after leaving the Boleyn the club spent all summer talking about Alexandre Lacazette and Carlos Bacca but signed Sofiane Feghouli on a free transfer.
By January, Dimitri Payet had had enough and was replaced with Robert Snodgrass. We’ve since made a profit in the last two transfer windows. Yes, if West Ham are challenging for Europe next season most fans wouldn’t give two hoots that the owners are making £50k-per-week in interest from loans to the club. But the problem is that the club won’t trouble the top half unless they show more ambition in the transfer market. And so far the board have shown little desire to do that.