We live in a footballing illusion where the Premier League purports to be the sport of the everyday man, as long as that everyday man is a full of coin. The game we once knew is not the game we have today…well certainly not in the higher echelons of the sport. The television money has corrupted everything that was holy with the sport and where once we would simply discuss players, tactics and fixtures, now we discuss all manner of things from fitness and diet, salary and working practices as well as psychological afflictions that might affect a player’s performance.

“Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I’m rich.” – Daffy Duck

The science of football has changed exponentially over the years and now the average fan is well versed in the technicalities both on and off the field of play, not to mention what should or should not be done within club structures. Whilst the game has got more complicated, the mere fan has been marginalised and made relevantly insignificant by the money men and the power brokers of the game.

Of course there is a trickling effect as one tumbles down the leagues but the main antagonists of this corruption are to be found in the top flight where the riches are found and the filthy rich 

merely get dirtier still.

The owners at West Ham are no different in this regard and have acted without due consideration of fan’s wishes…and would we think they ever should? We are two years down the road since being moved from Upton Park and is the club in a better situation than it was then? Well, financially probably yes in real terms, however the league position bares no resemblance to former glories. One might assume that the owners would be grovelling for forgiveness and pleading with fans to keep the faith a little longer to allow the house be put back in order…but nothing is so convenient in the modern game!

If the club were in a similar situation but still at Upton Park, of course there would be grumblings within the ranks but nowhere near what we are seeing today. We move for better times and bigger venues with lofty ambitions wafted before our ears and eyes…and many were taken in whilst others went along for the ride.

I question whether indeed fans are even part of the club’s business plan any longer…and this isn’t a West Ham phenomenon but rather affects all Premier League clubs of a certain size and encampment in the league. Many clubs are merely chasing the fiscal express and foregoing any other ambitions that fans may want. League position is hardly important for those outside of the top six as long as they end up above the bottom three.

The turnstile figures are a nicety but hardly a game changer when compared to what Sky, BT or BBC are offering let alone what Amazon, Facebook, Netflix or even Twitter might be willing to offer as the new deals are done. The Premier League current gets £5.14Billion…yes BILLION and the new deal will naturally be even higher…yes HIGHER! The clubs simply do not need the fans anymore in financial terms…why do you think they hold us in such low regard?

It isn’t an all inclusive club feel anymore and that traditional family club values may have disappeared a long time ago too. Fans will be loyal to the colours their whole life…they have no choice as it is ingrained into their very beings…they are the daffy ducks…the footballing quacks, but that doesn’t mean that they will continue to go to matches either. Any club has natural wastage and every year there will be a new generation of fan…however West Ham may begin to face a shortfall if performance trends continue or certainly if the club is ever relegated. However the biggest reason for fans leaving and not returning will be if the owners continue in the same vein and treat the fans as non entities.

Since the Burnley game, the club has shown its true colours and possibly did not have a choice in the matter, however they could have done a lot more to re-engage with the fanbase. Handing out lifetime bans for four fans that ran onto the pitch, publicly admonishing fans for protesting and attracting the media attention, putting up barriers to prevent fans from being tempted to protest too near the director’s box…removing disabled fans from their seats to accomplish the new security task? It is a shocking testament for many fans that this club is not a club of the fans anymore…however, at the same time they call for unity and to fully support the team, generate a great atmosphere and to cheer on the players for every match because it helps the player’s focus.

That may be true, but who do they think they are kidding? They are asking the fans to lay down their arms, surrender the protests and righteous cause to help the team survive and to continue swimming in the rich gravy. These are self serving platitudes, these are empty requests and self righteous indignation for they are in danger of losing a huge percentage of their revenue stream!

The divide between the fans and club owners continues to grow…certainly in those clubs where owners are perceived as having their own interests as a priority. Possibly the West Ham ownership model is now defunct too…perhaps the owners even know this themselves. Each club courts the super rich or multinational companies looking for a shrewd investment…but football was never a sensible investment, hence why it usually attracted fans of the club to invest and that is still the case in the lower leagues, but the Premier League offers something never witnessed in other football leagues and business…the opportunity to gain a healthy return on an ever increasing asset.

Supporters of West Ham are split into factions of opinion and intensity but all share that common bond to loyally encourage, cajole and cheer on the team in any match. Perhaps there was an intrinsic relationship between club and fanbase in years gone by, perhaps that still exists in some quarters…but mostly it is fading, and fading fast. Many fans embroil themselves into all aspects of club life and feel the pains as no others can, however there are those who may choose to distance themselves from such close ties and merely support the team and wish them well in whatever the future holds.

The club has jumped on the money train and the fans are still waiting at the station, whilst the daffy ducks lose their minds and chant, “You’re Despicable!”


By Gonzo

West Ham fan for as long as I can remember. I was flukey enough to watch The Irons beat Bury 10-0 in my first ever game . . . True to form, West Ham then went out and signed their central defender 😬

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