Credit where it isn't due

  • by Staff Writer
  • Tuesday, 30th April 2019

West Ham United's Official Supoporters Board has endured a difficult start to life.

Having been referred to as "Board puppets" and "non-democratic", amongst other less savoury names since its recent inauguration, members of the much-maligned and club-led OSB have been seeking something positive to offer the rest of the fanbase in order to quieten their detractors.

On Tuesday a piece entitled "the story so far" appeared on the club's website in which the OSB's input was roundly praised, with the 17 current members (fewer than previously due to some high-profile "mutual" withdrawals) credited for a number of improvements at the club.

Amongst other things, the OSB were credited with meeting with West Ham's catering partners Delaware North from which some changes to the way food and drink is distributed around the stadium were introduced.

They were also praised for their involvement for helping to introduce 'single-use plastics' to stadium alcohol merchants for the last three home matches of the 2018/19 season, although the OSB's part in this would appear to have been minimal.

However it is the inference that the OSB are also responsible for the introduction of free sanitary products and two new Fan Zones on the perimeter of the Olympic Stadium which has baffled many fans - and that's because both of the above were driven by supporters who have no involvement with the OSB whatsoever.

Longstanding Hammers fan Esther Jones Russell had been campaigning for the club to introduce free women's sanitary products at the stadium for some considerable time prior to their recent introduction.

With the help of the West Ham United Independent Supporter Association (WHUISA), the issue was brought to the club's attention at the beginning of March - as the following tweet confirms.

Yet despite this, the OSB were credited for the introduction of sanitary products in the club's latest missive.

"As part of the club's commitment to equality, the OSB requested that the club consider providing free sanitary products in the women's toilet facilities around the general admission concourse," read the article.

"The club and OSB are pleased to announce that, following this request, that sanitary products will be available on match day at the start of the 2019/2020 season."

Further to the above issue, the OSB have also been credited with the introduction of the Fan zones - despite vice chair Karren Brady having "committed" to introducing these following a meeting with a number of independent West Ham fan representatives in Febuary 2018, some considerable time before the OSB was born.

Under the banner of West Ham Groups United (WHGU), several prominent supporter organisations - including - met with Brady and fellow Director Tara Warren. Following the meeting, the duo signed off a number of "commitments" which included the provision of Fan Zones outside the stadium.

Writing to WHGU members on 21 February 2018, Brady outlined the club's plans to introduce the Zones.

"We will pursue the installation of Fan Zones and have already agreed with our partner Heineken to install a new free 40ft long container bar on the Stadium Island," wrote the club's vice chair.

The club also made a string of additional promises, including consulting the entire fanbase last summer with regards to West Ham's 125th anniversary celebrations, on which they have thus far failed to deliver.

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