The West Ham United Official Supporters Board (OSB) has had a bit of an entrenched start since its creation in November of last year.
Many, such as the West Ham United Independent Supporters Association (WHUISA) and some prominent voices on Twitter, initially took umbrage with the manner in which the group was put together, citing a lack of transparency and democracy in the selection process of its members.
There have been accusations that they will be little more than stooges for the Owners. A closed shop that will exude little influence and be used as a tool to placate the rest of us.
With the club recently announcing a partnership with Socios – which is “a first-of-its-kind mobile app for football fans, where fans acquire the ability to vote – by buying, earning or hunting for Fan Tokens – on selected club decisions….” – there is growing concern that having our voice heard as a fan base is going to become something only for the select few.
It is pleasing then to hear that the OSB has taken the results from a survey to the club in a recent meeting at the London Stadium.
Just under 3,000 fans took part in the survey which will be used by the club and kit manufacturers Umbro, to help guide the design of our kit for the 2020/21 season.
The question ranged from questions about sock colours and collars to which era in the club’s history should influence the new kit.
The results showed that 68 per cent of fans favoured white socks over claret and that 75 per cent preferred the more traditional sky blue sleeves over the more subtle use of trims or stripes.
Tradition was a big winner in the survey with 68 per cent of fans voting for the conventional colours for our away kits (white, navy and sky blue) over the less conventional numbers as we have seen in recent years (so farewell blacks and dirty socks grey).
Some 72 per cent of fans felt that the club crest on the range of shirt should be of a standard colour and design rather than be altered to coordinate with the colour of the kit.
When asked for their preference for the colour of our away kit 51 per cent opted for sky blue, 27 per cent for white and 14 per cent voted for navy.
This result must please designers Umbro with our kit for the upcoming season being a white away kit with a navy kit as our third strip, leaving sky blue as the best option for all – given that we normally rotate between the three options for our change kits.
In terms of the finer details of the kit, 70 per cent voted for a collarless number whilst 85 per cent believed that the shirt should be embroidered with crossed hammers (13 per cent voted for former players names, whilst only 2 per cent chose the London Stadium).
Finally the survey says that 44 per cent of fans want the 2020/21 kit to draw influence from those of the 80s, whilst 22 per cent voted for the 60’s, 20 per cent for Cup Final classics and 15 per cent longed for the 70’s vibes.
Interestingly only two of the four kits we donned during the 80s had the traditional sky blue sleeves that 75 per cent of fans voted for, which presumably will narrow it down nicely for Umbro.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how much sway this survey has when designs are drawn up next year and whether we will be adding this to a list of things that the club and the OSB have achieved together by including fans.
Or whether we will be bemoaning that they listen to us over superficial things but turn a deaf ear to fans on bigger issues.
Only time, and the 2020/21 kit, will tell.