Thousands of fans continue to “persistently stand” despite threats of ground eviction. Tensions resulted in actual fights at London Stadium on Saturday.
It’s been the talk of this weekend regarding Premier League stadium safety. During the West Ham – Watford game there were attempts of confrontation between home and away fans. Actual brawls were also erupting within the West Ham fanbase. Surely, the tragic result (WHU were leading 2:0 to lose 2:4) didn’t help, but causes are more serious than outrage at the loss.
The pre-opening against FK Domzale in Europa League was more satisfying than not, even if some organizing issues were simply expected. But we’re over a month later now and instead of being solved, the issues are more serious every game.
Tensions seem to be galvanized by the question of whether to sit or stand. During West Ham’s challenging relocation of thousands of fans from Upton Park to London Stadium many landed in sections they don’t feel comfortable in.
Some supporters continue to stand throughout games, which is tolerated in sections where all seem to enjoy the game this way. But such areas are in the minority, usually those “persistently standing” obstruct the views of fans preferring to seat. This issue seems to be prevalent and the main reason behind Saturday’s arguments and physical altercations.
Gold promises to solve the issue
Already before the game West Ham sent out a letter to all season ticket holders, urging them to seat and threatening disobedient fans with termination of their tickets. Following Saturday’s tensions the team released a statement announcing lifetime bans.
„Our policy on this behaviour remains one of zero tolerance and we will work with the police and other stakeholders to identify the individuals involved. Once identified, they will be banned from attending any West Ham United fixture for life and we will request the courts serve banning orders to prevent these individuals attending any football.”
West Ham co-owner David Gold in turn promised to solve issues surrounding London Stadium relocation as soon as possible. “We will drive the solution. We will find the way through the segregation issue and the standing/sitting issue. We have the experience to do so and it will be done. I promise you.” Gold told ClaretAndHugh.info.
In all fairness though, it seems West Ham’s relocation scheme went hardy as well as planned. Never mind that many season ticket holders during the first game who found no seats in their designated sections. There are in fact no dedicated sections for families, seniors and, perhaps most notably, most vocal fans who widely prefer standing.
Following initial problems, capacity of the stadium was decreased from 60,010 to some 57,000 seats by the London Stadium Safety Advisory Group, even though the club has planning permission for 60,000. This decision will not be reverted until West Ham resolve all issues regarding safety. Until then there will also be no discussion of capacity increase to 66,000-67,000 as is enabled by existing infrastructure.