Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

The SAB and the 'false gains' claims

Filed: Wednesday, 17th October 2018
By: Graeme Howlett

I was interested to read a item on West Ham's website this morning citing the gains made as a result of the concerted efforts of the now defunct SAB (Supportersí Advisory Board) and the DSAB (Disabled Supportersí Advisory Board).

In a article entitled 'Don't miss your chance to be on the Official Supporters' Boards!', the club listed a short table of improvements implemented at the stadium as a result of - and I quote - "following recommendations from their consultation in the past".

The improvements listed were as follows:

- An increase in the number of match day Supporter Liaison Officers and Shuttle Buses
- Heritage displays and concourse shelving being installed at London Stadium
- Developing the Supporter Services online helpdesk and @WestHamHelp twitter account

Unfortunately those responsible for these claims are being either slightly mischievous or deliberately disingenuous here. For two of the three gains listed above arrived following meetings with either independent content creators or independent fan groups and had absolutely nothing to do with the SAB or DSAB!

Indeed, only the third item listed - creating a help desk and opening a new twitter account - can genuinely be claimed to have come from the club's own in-house consultation process.

Embed from Getty Images

The suggestion to increase the number of SLOs and shuttle buses originated from a KUMB proposal published at the end of 2016 in a document entitled 'A Ten Point Pledge Of Our Own', as you may see here (see points 8 and 9).

Meanwhile the 'heritage displays' were the result of a request by members of the RWHFAG (Real West Ham Fans Action Group) during a WHGU (West Ham Groups United) meeting with directors Karren Brady and Tara Warren back in February of this year.

As for the concourse shelving? Well, that too was result of a request by members of KUMB during an even earlier meeting with Karren Brady and other West Ham-based content creators!

For what it's worth, I am a former member of the Supporters' Advisory Board but allowed my membership to lapse after one particular meeting (circa 2015) in which attendees were ordered to leave their mobile phones at reception and sign NDAs prohibiting any external discussion.

It was my view then that the SAB was essentially pointless (not to mention gutless) and little more than a box-ticking exercise for the club, who are bound to engage with supporters by Premier League edicts.

And it is my view now that these new bodies being created by the club to replace the much-maligned SAB and DSAB - which will now be known as the Official Supportersí Board (WHUSB), Disabled Supportersí Board (DSB) and Junior Supporters' Board (JSB) - will prove no less ineffective and toothless as their predecessors.

Of course if the club wished to genuinely reach out to its fanbase it might do so via KUMB (with its 200,000 readers per month) or one or two of the social media groups that boast healthy memberships, some of which extend to several thousand fans.

But that is now extremely unlikely in the near future since the Board effectively cut off all communication with independent fan groups following March's riot inside the Olympic Stadium - since when I have been banned from attending press conferences by the club's Head of Media, Ben Campbell, ending 15 years of unbroken access.

Instead, the fans' views will now be represented by any supporter able to obtain five nomations from his or her circle of friends - all of which makes it considerably easier for the club to dismiss any subsequent recommendations.

As a result of the club's continued (West?) ham-fisted attempts to control the media and narrative, it's vitally important that Hammers fans continue to support genuinely independent concerns such as Knees up Mother Brown or one of the plethora of other West Ham-based websites or social media groups.

For it is only the genuinely independent sources that can and will hold the Board truly accountable, as KUMB and others have been doing for more than 20 years now.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

comments powered by Disqus