New fans group snub OSB

  • by Staff Writer
  • Friday, 24th May 2019

A recently-founded fan group has rejected the opportunity to apply for membership of the Official Supporters Board - whilst branding Karren Brady's pet project as "an illusion and a subordinate of the club".

Hammers United, who launched at the beginning of March recently wrote to the club in order to request a meeting with the Board so that they may express the concerns of their (several thousand) members.

However the group were told by Supporter Services Manager Jake Heath that the only fans organisation the Board would deal with at present is the heavily-criticised OSB.

The controversial OSB, pictured at an early meeting

"The OSB was established this season as the official conduit between the supporters, the Board of Directors and senior management at the Club," wrote Mr Heath, in reply.

"All independent supporters groups were welcome to apply for a position to represent their independent group on the OSB and applications will again open this summer to any groups who wish to apply for the 2019/2020 season.

"In the meantime, if [you] would like to raise any experiences or concerns on behalf of supporters please send them to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Official Supporters' Board."

Following receipt of Mr Heath's letter, HU members were asked to vote on whether to take up the club's offer and apply for membership of the OSB. That opportunity was unequivocally rejected by members, who voted approximately six to one against.

As a result the group's Joint Secretary Lee Rogers has written to the club in order to confirm that Hammers United "will not be seeking representation" and will continue to lobby the Board for face-to-face discussions.

"We are well aware of the existence of the OSB," wrote Mr Rogers, in reply.

"However,the vast majority of West Ham supporters see this as not representative of the fans. Our members share this view. The OSB is not a democratically elected body. It is but an illusion and, in effect, a subordinate of the club.

"When the club recently announced season ticket price increases these apparently had not even been discussed with the OSB!

"More recently the club announced its new partnership with Socios; it would seem that once again the OSB was not consulted on this very important matter to West Ham supporters.

"As a democratic body ourselves we balloted our members on whether we should seek representation on the OSB. Our members vote was a resounding 'no'.

"We therefore thank you for pointing out that application can be made for a position on the OSB but will not be seeking representation. Please explain our position to the Board and stress that it is them we wish to speak to on matters of concern raised by their supporters.

"Hopefully the Board will agree to meet us but they must understand that until they do so we have a duty to our members to both lobby them to reconsider and to get the answers and improvements our members seek."

The OSB, which has already come in for heavy criticism from many quarters is the latest incarnation of a club-created platform introduced to facilitate direct discussion with supporters.

Karren Brady's previous attempt at such, the Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), was disbanded after it was ridiculed by supporters for asking members to sign non-disclosure agreements whilst ordering them not to take electronic equipment into SAB meetings.

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