Heed the lessons of history

  • by Tross
  • Filed: Monday, 26th September 2022

I was one of the key stakeholders involved in the creation of the (then) new Independent Supporters Committee, after a considered period of frustration and turmoil amongst the West Ham fanbase that culminated with 8,500 fans taking to the streets to vent their frustrations.

As I did then as the joint-secretary of Hammers United, I still strongly believe now that the opportunity to represent and serve your fellow supporters is a position of great privilege, which must be treated with the utmost of respect.

Accordingly, I read this morning's KUMB article with deep disappointment, and it churned my stomach.

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The ISC was born following a string of well-supported protests

A concerted effort was made to bring an end to the historic shambles that was supporter board engagement with the club, and I invested a great deal of time ‘brokering’ the support of influential fans, supporter groups, the FSA and building relationships with the parties at the club itself.

I resigned from the Hammers United committee soon after the formation of the ISC and was privately proud of what had been achieved just 18 months on from a meeting of frustrated fans at the old Plaistow Club, uniting our support and giving it the voice it had long since deserved, with a framework that would serve supporters first.

Yet it appears (on the surface) at least that those who have been entrusted with the responsibility to serve the amazing supporters of our great club have lost sight of the very purpose for which their afforded positions exist.

Questions will now invariably be asked, as they were to previous incarnations of supporters boards, with suggestions seemingly rife that the comforts and status afforded to those in these privileged positions of representation have caused a clouding of judgement and a failure to uphold the very high standards that are expected in a role of service.

Sadly, it seems once more the torch of introspection must be shone brightly at a West Ham supporters board... and the ISC, and its leadership held accountable by the support it was built to serve.

While the club has been making great progress on the pitch it looks like supporter engagement has regressed off it, and the club are demonstrating behaviours that the independent framework put in place was designed to govern and protect against.

Perhaps it’s a good time for those parties at the club to recount its previous experiences of strong-arming supporters and treating its fans like shit (and I consider the behaviour around season ticket cards and leaving people who travelled to Europe to watch a football match without tickets they had paid for to tick the ‘like shit’ box)... and remember it rarely ends well.

The ISC needs to clean house, quick bloody sharp, and ensure it’s only the reputations of any individuals who have lost their way or over extended their remit are all that is damaged - and not the ISC itself.

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