Hey, West Ham - where's our FAB?

  • by Staff Writer
  • Friday, 29th March 2024

Almost 17 months after Premier League members were ordered to introduce Fan Advisory Boards (FABs), only three clubs remain unrepresented in the entire division.

All 20 member clubs - barring those recently promoted from the Championship - have had well over a year to make the necessary arrangements for a fan representative body to be introduced, following an announcement by the Premier League in November 2022.

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And, as revealed by The Times, that has been sufficient for 17 of the 20 member clubs - including two of the three teams promoted this season - to arrange and launch the required framework.

As for the three still unrepresented, one is Luton Town who were promoted to the Premier League for the first time ever last May following their Championship play-off win. The other two - Fulham and West Ham United, both well-established top flight clubs - have no such excuses.

KUMB readers who have been following the debacle regarding the existing Independent Supporters' Committee (ISC) will be well aware of how the club has attempted to retain some level of involvement in the body, which has met with stiff opposition from the ISC's two most active members - Hammers United and the West Ham United Supporters Club.

As a result, the previous chair and deputy chair of the ISC resigned in the wake of a avalanche of criticism concerning their "comfy" relationship with the club - which had led to an ineffective organisation with little clout in serious matters, much to the frustration of members such as the aforementioned.

It has been claimed that the club have treated the ISC with little more than disdain at times, with critics pointing to the club's failure to engage with the group regarding numerous key matters such as season ticket pricing and the gradual removal of concessions for the elderly, as revealed earlier this week.

It is no secret that key members of West Ham's board are anti the introduction of a legitimate FAB, which would replace the ISC, and an independent regulator. Both chair David Sullivan and CEO Karren Brady have been quoted in the media opposing the mandatory requirements imposed by the current government.

However with the ISC now chaired by Andy Payne, a leading member of the Hammers United committee, positive steps have been taken towards the introduction of an FAB at West Ham since the new year - even though those involved maintain West Ham continue to drag their heels; one example being the club taking seven weeks to provide feedback for FAB draft documentation initially presented back in January.

That Premier League clubs are keen to maintain some involvement with their respective FAB's appears to be a widespread issue; The Times report how Chelsea's FAB have been accused of "doing the club’s bidding" by the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, while Tottenham and Arsenal have insisted on having a senior member of club staff - in Spurs' case, executive director Donna Cullen and for Arsenal, communications director, Kate Laurens - on their FABs.

However as both Liverpool and Everton have shown, FABs can function perfectly adequately wihout input from employees of the football club. If full independence is to be achieved, theirs is a model all Premier League FABs should be striving for.

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