Radio station snubs supporters group

  • by Staff Writer
  • Tuesday, 21st January 2020

On Tuesday morning sports radio station TalkSport extended an invitation to the team at Hammers United, the supporters group behind Saturday anti-board protest at the Olympic Park, to appear on one of their programmes.

Yet in bizarre circumstances they later retracted their invite by refusing to allow the group's chairman a platform upon which to speak - on the basis that he had been previously issued with a Football Banning Order.

Paul Colborne was issued with the FBO as a result of entering the field of play during a match with Burnley in March 2018 and planting a corner flag in the centre circle. He was subsequently banned from attending West Ham matches at the London Olympic Stadium for life by the club.

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Defiant: the act that led to Colborne, a hero to many fans, receiving a lifetime ban

Earlier today TalkSport contacted Colborne and invited him to appear on their popular Hawksbee & Jacobs afternoon show in order to discuss Saturday's successful protest - an event that attracted around 2,000 Hammers fans.

They also extended the invitation to KUMB Editor Graeme Howlett who was one of the five speakers at Saturday's peaceful demonstration, staged in the Olympic Park just yards from the stadium.

However Colborne - who had taken time off work in order to accept the invitation - was told shortly before the programme began that he was no longer required as Howlett would be speaking instead.

Upon discovering this, KUMB's Editor informed Talksport that he would only consider appearing on the show in addition to Colborne or with a colleague from Hammers United's committee, as he was not a member of the group and therefore not in a position to speak on their behalf.

Yet Talksport responded by telling Howlett they would not consider giving Colborne a platform due to his FBO, refused to allow any colleagues of his to appear in his place and opted instead to interview TalkSport employee Ian Abrahams, also known as 'Moose', who has previously expressed his concerns about the group and their aims.

Under fire: who pulled the plug on Hammers United's interview?

TalkSport's stance was later criticised by Amanda Jacks of the Football Supporters' Association, who called the decision to suddenly pull the plug on Colborne's appearance "incredible".

"It's incredible that TalkSport allegedly won't speak to the Chair of Hammers United because he is on a banning order for a non-violent offence," she wrote. "FBOs do not have conditions to say holders can't speak to the media, so since when did TalkSport become so sanctimoniously censorious?"

Meanwhile Andy Byrne, a colleague of Colborne's on Hammers United's committee similarly expressed his incredulity at the situation. "It's disappointing that TalkSport refuse to talk to Hammers United's Chair due to the FBO," he wrote on social media.

"They refused to talk to KUMB in conjunction with Hammers United and refused to put on another committee member who was waiting on the line while Ian Abrahams talked about Hammers United. Karren Brady, who is censoring TalkSport?"

That Colborne was invited to appear on the Hawksbee & Jacobs show before being snubbed at the last minute might appear to suggest a third party had contacted TalkSport to ask them not to allow him to appear - hence Byrne's final reference to West Ham's Vice Chair.

Meanwhile West Ham's Head of Football Media Relations, Ben Campbell, has previously withdrawn media access from those working in the field who have publicly expressed anti-board sentiments.

A rotund Abrahams tweeted a picture of himself enjoying West Ham's hospitality while Saturday's protest was taking place

Abrahams, who spoke for several minutes about Hammers United went on to misrepresent the group's aims and ambitions by claiming that the protest was a consequence of the team's recent poor results - something that has been dismissed time and time again by the group.

"Last year, when Pellegrini was doing well at home and West Ham were winning games at home this wasn't rearing its head again," he said.

"It reared its head again under Bilic when they struggled and for a little bit under Moyes when the people came onto the pitch - especially the guy in the Burnley game who came across the pitch and put the corner flag in the centre circle.

"It didn't really rear its head last year under Pellegrini last year when West Ham were doing well at home but they're not doing well now so obviously once again it's become an issue."

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