SAB meeting Wednesday 24th May 2017 at London Stadium.

Dear member,
WHUISA have been invited to attend this meeting and we have accepted.
Please can you send your thoughts / experiences / conclusions on your first season at London Stadium (LS) both positive and negative and if you have any solutions to your issues please send them in also.
The following subjects are worth your consideration but of course are not limited to…
1. Stewarding
2. Migration / relocation process
3. Away fans – West Ham’s.
4. Match day experience.
5. Transport to / from LS.
6. Food / drink in LS.
Please respond by 6pm Tuesday 23rd and your points will be raised.
Thanks you for your support and i look forward to hearing from you.
Always West Ham
WHUISA Interim Committee.

Meeting with West Ham 17/05/17, SAB meeting 24/05/17 and Twitter.

Dear WHUISA-ers,

Paul and George went to meet the club for a get to know you session with the club on Wednesday afternoon. This meeting was originally scheduled for 01/03 and then 26/04 but events conspired against both parties for these dates. It was relaxed and friendly, lasted for 90 minutes and there was a lot we agreed on but a few things we didn’t.

It was all very informal, no minutes were taken. They wanted to know what we were about and we wanted to see how they felt about us.

Interim Joint Chair Paul and Committee member George were there from the WHUISA side. West Ham had Tara Warren (Marketing Director), Jake Heath (Supporter Liaison Officer), Max Fitzgerald (‎Head of Media Relations) & Dan Francis (Senior Copywriter).

They welcome our involvement and we are developing contacts at all levels at the club. While they say the all supporters are welcome to contact Jake directly, it’s clear that our involvement will help with getting issues resolved. We’re looking to see how that pans out over the summer.

We’ve been involved with a few cases now including the Club Cash debacle, some ticketing and banning issues. We’re also closely aligned with the National Football Supporters Federation (FSF) who are able to provide brilliant support if things get really difficult / legal.

The club still see the SAB as the primary forum for supporter feedback. They will only give us one representative on the board which we think is disappointing considering we have over 700 members.  The next SAB meeting will be on Wednesday 24th May.

Lots of people have problems with the SAB and we think it is far from perfect but we feel we have to be involved if asked. If you have any issues you would like us to raise at the meeting next Wednesday get in touch. If you are a WHUISA member and are attending as an SAB member or know someone who is, do let us know.

This is the time, after our first season at the new stadium, for you to send us specific points about the stadium, stewarding, transport and the match day experience. The key is not just to raise your point but give your alternative / resolution. They have promised to listen to the SAB so this is the chance to put that to the test.

The club acknowledged the current make up is less than perfect but say next season will be more representative and include various other large supporter groups. They talked about disability, corporate and LGBT groups, beyond that, we’ll see. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

We feel a review of the SAB is necessary with more focussed representatives as well as more regular meetings and feedback given. The minutes of the SAB in January and one follow up post on the clubs official website in March with only 2 meetings a season, one of them in the close season, is too infrequent.

We have asked to be involved with police meetings before high profile games like Spurs. It means that we can give our input but also feedback to our members. We were very well received in November last year at the Chelsea EFL post-match FSF led meeting with the Met, West Ham and stadium operators. The club are saying that they will choose people to represent fans from the SAB. We don’t think that’s great from a true representation of the fans view and are pushing on several levels to be specifically included in the future.

Supporters with disabilities

We know we have a few members with disabilities and you may find this interesting. The club says that it has a disabled SAB (DSAB) and that it represents both people who use wheelchairs and ambulant disabled supporters. This was new information to us. Is anyone on here a member or know anyone who is? A google search has come up with this, did anyone join?

https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2017/march/30-march/apply-now-new-disabled-supporters-advisory-board

Has anyone been consulted by this group or been contacted by the club with regards to this ? We made the point that many people consider themselves to have disability but haven’t registered with the club. At the Boleyn they just got on with it. If you have any disability we’d really like to hear from you on how you feel the London Stadium has worked out this season as well as what can be improved upon.  

Twitter & WHUISA membership

Just a reminder that @WHUISA2017 will be the only twitter account soon. Please follow if you want to keep updated with WHUISA news. Social media followers are important for all sorts of reasons

Also, if you know anyone who would is a Hammer but not a member of WHUISA, give them a nudge, the more members we have, the more the club will listen to us. http://www.whuisa.org/join-whuisa/

Always West Ham 

WHUISA interim committee.

WHUISA Updates – Twitter / Hammer of the Year / Meeting.

Dear member.

@WHUISA2017 or twitter.com/WHUISA2017. 

We are now tweeting from a new account because of a technical issue with our previous account – please follow on the above to keep up with all the latest WHUISA news and campaigns. 

WHUISA  are pleased to announce that Michail Antonio has been voted our player of the year. Taking 45% of the vote he beat our match winner against Spurs, Manu Lanzini, into 2nd place who polled 34% of the respondents. In 3rd was Winston Reid with 9% of your votes.  Thanks to all who voted. 

Well done Michail a worthy winner ! Plans are in progress to hold a presentation evening to which the winner and other current West Ham players will be invited to. We are also aiming to get a few players from the 1975 and 1980 FA cup winning teams to come along as well. 

West Ham Supporters Club have offered to host the evening and the player will receive the original Hammer of the Year trophy which is now celebrating its 70th year.  Details will be published once confirmed. 

WHUISA will hold an open meeting on Sunday 14th May at the White Post Cafe & Bar, Schwartz Wharf (Building 4), 92 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN.  The White Post will serve alcohol and food all day whilst the stadium is only a few minutes walk away. Hopefully this gives a lot of our members the chance to come along before the Liverpool match. 

We shall start at 11.30am in the atrium. All welcome with the place opening from 10am. 

Let’s hope the team can repeat the performance and result ( i don’t ask for much do i ?) against Liverpool !!!!!!

Always West Ham

Paul Joint Chair WHUISA  Interim Committee. 

 

 

Hammer of the Year / Update

Dear member
Hope you are well. if you have voted for the WHUISA Hammer of the Year
thank you. To date just under half the membership have responded.
IF YOU HAVE NOT THEN PLEASE DO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are plans to hold a presentation evening before the end of the
season with players from the FA Cup winning teams of 1975 and 1980 being
present to help the evening be a rip roaring success.
Please vote by Sunday 7th May to give us a chance to get things organised.
WHUISA will now meet with the club on Wednesday 17th May. There is also a
scheduled meeting of the SAB on Wednesday 24th May. We will be in
attendance.
A number of members have forwarded issues to us to be raised. If you have
anything to say both positive and negative on the first season since
leaving the Boleyn / Upton Park please inform.
There will be an open meeting of WHUISA on Sunday 14th May at 11.30am in
Stratford to ratify the constitution, announce the election process and
update you on any other business.
The venue will be announced this weekend once we have had a chance to find
a place over there. We thought this would make it more convenient then the
Supporters Club.
Always West Ham
Paul joint chair on behalf of the interim committee WHUISA.

WHUISA meeting with West Ham United on 26/04/2017.

A meeting was planned for 26/04/17 at 3pm at the London Stadium between the Interim Committee of WHUISA and at least Tara Warren and Jake Heath of West Ham United. 

Due to the early morning call from HMRC the club called me around 10am to cancel and apologised for this.

A new date for a meeting would be proposed by the club in due course. 

WHUISA look forward to this. 

Always West Ham

Paul – Joint Chair WHUISA. 

WHUISA MEETING HAMMERS SUPPORTERS’ CLUB 08/04/2017 at 11am

Attending 4 committee members and 22 members and 2 invited speakers. 

  1. INTRODUCTION & UPDATE from Interim Chair. Paul explained that: Mark Sandell had resigned from the committee; Ali (joint chair) had been unwell and in her absence had been informed on all matters; the Association has 652 members; money collected from members is £1900 and this is banked and to date none of the money collected from members has been spent; a couple of people have put their names forward for consideration as representatives for supporters with disability; SAB meeting in Jan was attended by the association and notes were circulated; four SAB members are now members of WHUISA; the association achieved a positive outcome with the club in relation to the Lithuanian supporters group securing tickets for the Chelsea match. There is a further SAB meeting scheduled for May24th. 

      Amanda Jacks from the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) was introduced and outlined her role at FSF and certain current issues being addressed by FSF

      A recent date to meet face to face  with the club had to be cancelled because no committee members  were available due to work commitments and the next date is 20th April ( now changed to 26th April at request of the club). The association will use this opportunity to talk directly with Tara Warren, Jake Heath and start to develop  effective relations with the club. 

  1. WHUISA MANIFESTO

      On behalf of the interim committee George Mann outlined a new manifesto. This document will  be circulated to members for consideration. From the floor an additional point was made      concerning the arrangements for fans to leave the LS ground before full time. 

  1. ELECTIONS to WHUISA

      George Mann outlined the possible need to rewrite the constitution for our new organization and that new committee members will be sought soon. Ahead of these elections a draft revised Constitution highlighting proposed changes will be sent to all WHUISA members for comment and agreement. 

  1. HAMMERS SUPPORTERS CLUB.

      Fez (Steward of the Club) was invited to speak about what is happening at the HSC. An AGM is imminent and WHUISA will advise on the date when known. The future of HSC will be determined at an EGM if this is sought by HSC members. The HSC needs support if it is to remain open  and especially people to use the facilities.  

  1. NEXT MEETING.

      Provisionally set for 13th May 17 – now Sunday 14th May at 11.30am at a venue in Stratford to be announced.  

  1. AOB
  2. Committee is considering extending all membership by 1 year for all concerned.      

All present remembered our late friend and member Alan Walker. He is very sadly missed.

Interim Committee

WHUISA.

Supporters Update Feedback.

Hi all,

WHUISA is driven by its members concerns as opposed to the interim committee (IC) taking a view and pursuing it. In light of this we are looking to get input from you the members on what is currently happening at the club and a good starting point is the following.

The club published details of feedback to supporters input / SAB meetings at which WHUISA  was present. The link is as follows:

http://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2017/march/17-march/supporter-feedback-update

In response to the below points highlighted from the article the IC would be grateful for your feedback which will help us in discussions with the club.

  1. @WestHamHelp

Our new dedicated Supporter Services twitter account @WestHamHelp is open from Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and on first team home matchdays from two hours before kick-off until full-time. We aim to respond to as many enquiries as possible within 24 hours and currently have more than 2,700 followers. Follow us today for all the latest service information or if you need any help or advice relating to the Club.

Is this service useful, have you used it ?

2. SLOs growing in number

Our new team of matchday Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs) have grown from a group of ten to 40 within the space of five matches, who will be on duty at the home match with Leicester City. All SLOs are personable, friendly and, above all, available on matchdays at London Stadium to assist with any enquiries, feedback and concerns.

Is this service useful, have you used it ?

3. Free Shuttle Bus service for home and visiting supporters

We have increased the number of Shuttle Buses for home supporters with accessibility requirements leaving London Stadium post-match and the average queuing time is now at approximately 20-25 minutes.

An additional Shuttle Bus is also available to visiting supporters with accessible requirements to assist them in travelling from the official coach park to the Stadium.

Is this service useful, have you used it ? 

4. Queues at the turnstiles

Following feedback received at the Supporter Advisory Board meeting on 24 January, we have significantly increased the number of security wands at the turnstiles to support the smooth and efficient entry of supporters to the stadium.

Flow rates at the turnstiles are constantly monitored at each match and we are pleased to confirm that, with these additions, entry for all fans across the stadium is proving to be much quicker.

Are you finding this to be the case ? 

5. Shelving in concourse areas

The Club and London Stadium recently undertook a review across the entire concourse area and new shelving will be in place for the match against Leicester City on Saturday 18 March.

Where are the new shelves positioned ?  

6. Toilets improved

Enquiries were raised at the Supporter Advisory Board meeting on January 24 as to the ratio of male to female hygiene facilities available on matchday. This has been reviewed carefully and the decision was made to change all toilets closest to the turnstiles to male, with signage and notices on each door communicating this.

Has this difference been noticed / useful ?

7. Ticket Exchange

In response to feedback from Season Ticket Holders seeking to sell their seats when they are unable to attend home matches, we introduced the Ticket Exchange.

Season Ticket Holders are given the opportunity to earn money to redeem against their Season Ticket renewal by listing their seat on the Ticket Exchange ahead of every home first-team fixture at London Stadium. Since being introduced before Christmas, the Ticket Exchange has therefore also given thousands of West Ham supporters the chance to attend home fixtures which have previously sold out this season.

What are your experiences / opinions of the Ticket Exchange ?

8. Season Ticket renewal price freeze/lower finance rate APR

Continuing our commitment to benefitting our most loyal supporters and providing affordable Premier League football for our Season Ticket Holders, the Board confirmed that founding Season Ticket Holders at London Stadium will enjoy a price freeze when renewing for the 2017/18 campaign. In addition, we also listened to supporter feedback by introducing a new low-interest finance plan of just 6% – down from 19.9% – delivered with our partner V12 Season Ticket Finance, for fans who wish to pay for their Season Ticket via monthly payments.

 What are your experiences / opinions of the current renewal process ?

Thanks for your feedback in advance.

If there is anything else you feel we should be highlighting to the club on behalf of you please let us know.

We look forward to seeing as many people as possible at our open meeting on Saturday 8th April from 11am at the Hammers Supporters Club in Castle Street. 

Always West Ham

WHUISA interim committee. 

WHUISA March 2017

Hi All

Preparations are under way for our meeting at the Hammers Supporters Club in Castle Street from 11am on Saturday 8th April ahead of the Swansea home match. We hope to see as many of you there as possible. 

We will be reporting back on the progress of the association so far and be looking forward to the future. As mentioned previously we will be starting the process of formal elections and look forward to members putting themselves up for helping in a more formal way. The more committee members we have the more the work / jobs can be shared around so no-one is under too much pressure.

We are particularly looking for younger members to throw their hat into the ring while we do have at least 2 people who expressed an interest to represent our disabled / ambulant disabled fans.

We have 650 members at present which exceeded our expectations. Thanks to all who have joined we really appreciate your backing. However we do need more to push on. I would be grateful if each member was able to persuade / cajole a fellow Hammer who is not a current member to sign up so we can make 1,000 members by the end of the season.  

Further to the stadium survey for which we thank the almost 300 members who responded we, as members of the FSF, have been requested to ask our members to do the following survey based mainly around away fans. The FSF do a lot of good work for away fans and this will help shape future campaigns.

https://surveymonkey.com/r/away-fans-2016-17

A meeting was scheduled with the club for earlier this month but the majority of our committee members were unable to attend to due to work commitments. We have requested another date with the club and are awaiting their response. We shall be in touch with further updates.

If any of you have any questions / points to raise please do so and we shall get on with it.

Always West Ham

WHUISA Interim Committee.

FURTHER DETAILS OF SAB MEETING 24/01/2017.

ACCESSIBILITY.

WHUISA agreed there needs to be a disability association and we are willing to help by having one as part of WHUISA. I have contacted one of the disability reps at the meeting and await a response. 2 disabled members of WHUISA have contacted me and we are looking to set something up.

A number of issues came up from the disabled reps with a request for West Ham to have their own congregating place specifically set up for people with disabilities. A room that would be dry, warm and adapted for the variety of disabilities people have.  Man U have such a place and is excellent. However where could / would West Ham house such a place?

Disabled changing rooms are available but people I have spoken to since were not aware of their existence.

BUSINESSES IN WEST HAM – LEGACY

The club have no official responsibility in helping such businesses. By the time the residential complex is built on the old ground many businesses in the area will have folded. Delaware North (DN) is the company responsible for authorising the food / drink outlets around the Stadium. It seems the club have recognised that they can help in some way by suggesting they will help to explain the process (an internet pack was mentioned) and give direct contact to DN.

Any business that was at Upton Park that wants to have a presence at the new place should contact Tara Warren (TW) at the club and request details / help. WHUISA are happy to help in any way they can.

HAMMERS SUPPORTERS CLUB (HSC).

As part of a joint committee of HSC members and committee members of HSC discussions have occurred between us and Newham Council while a place has been sourced for the HSC to move to as a satellite. The HSC is fully aware of this but the executive committee has not responded. Further the chair person has had meetings with Tara Warren unbeknown to other members of the HSC committee and the joint committee. This explained Karren Brady’s (KB) comment in the minutes.

The club is the only entity that can save the HSC. The HSC will close soon and will not make the end of the season. I made this point specifically.

A meeting between West Ham, the HSC and Newham Council is scheduled for 8/2 and I wish the HSC all the very best.

TOILETS

The point was made that the toilets (pods) which had been built since those for the Olympics were outside had not been designed very well. For male toilets the one way in and the same way out system made for tedious queues in the BML before, at half time and after the match. Further there are huge numbers of people coming from all parts of the ground to use toilets and massive bottlenecks develop. This is fine for an event like the Olympics when people can go when they want but at a football match there is a massive demand at half and full time. There are also a large number of female toilets. Whilst this is commendable the majority of people in the BML are male and a request was made to see if changes could be made to toilet design as well as possible increase in male toilets. For men there are only a small number of actual ‘sit down’ toilets in the ‘pods’ and this needs looking at too.

SECURITY

Security at the stadium is a big concern to our members. LS185 re-iterated their policy but in the light of current security / terrorist threats I was not convinced and they need to up their game.

Too many young people in important areas of the ground with little experience of big crowds.

The feedback promised by Peter Smith will be crucial. However I would not expect to wait until May 24th for this information to be disseminated.

Many people had problems getting from one place to another in the ground so while KB’s offer to assist a SAB member to get to where they want was kind Adrian Bradshaw did wonder whether this assistance would be offered to the other 50 odd thousand people in the ground. The answer was that it could not for obvious reasons. However why should someone in the SAB be afforded a privilege not available to others?

TURNSTILE CONGESTION

The club have acted immediately on my request to highlight getting to the match early or you will miss the KO. Such a message was the first thing read on the Man City preview e-mail. This should be on all further preview e-mails.

I further requested separate queues be considered to speed up the process. I proposed a queue for those with bags, one for people with no bags and one for families. This was included in the action plan.

I queued at the Man City match for a few minutes only to be told when reaching the front (by a female supervisor) this was a ladies only queue and I had to go, in no uncertain terms, to the back again. It was not clear that the queue I was in was for ladies only – other men were in it. When I requested a search as I was already there and happy to be checked I was ignored. A further request was rebuffed aggressively. A request for the persons ID after I could not see on her was also rudely rebuffed. This is not how I expect to be treated. Further details were noted by myself and the club will be informed.

ROUTE TO / FROM STADIUM / WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE

The route changes as there are ongoing building works which will not be finished for a number of years. This is something we have to suffer. Kevin Radley (KR) has looked in to the different number of routes being used out of the stadium and he has identified 5. He said people were fed up with having the routes changed. He provided a route plan to WHUISA and offered to help the club in this issue.

Further Westfield have a capacity in the shopping centre of 35,000 at any one time. They are keep an eye on this but with up to 57,000 coming into the area not shopping related but passing through they are mindful to keep us away as an increase in this capacity may see shoppers not allowed in due to safety reasons.

This situation is compounded if there ever was an evacuation of Westfield. The fire drills see the crowds from Westfield come out towards the stadium so fans are being diverted away in case this happens.

This begs a number questions. Further will West Ham ever play on a Boxing Day at home while the sales are on ? We have not played a home Boxing Day fixture since Arsenal in 2013. We are due one…..

Westfield are in control of their premises and while West Ham can request they open blocked routes such as those by The Cow Westfield are not obliged to accede. Westfield will may respond to a number of lobby / pressure groups but it seems sheer weight of numbers will see us stuck with the current mess of an egress we have as fans. It is tedious.

TRANSPORT LINKS

The actual links are good – it is the number of people using these links which is causing issues. SAB members complained of being herded to stations like cattle, delayed, packed like sardines on trains, noted continual disruption on Greater Anglia services and poor crowd control at Stratford International (SI).

Such things are actually out of the clubs control due however we were promised world class travel links and the ongoing situation, which does not affect all fans, has upset a significant number it does affect.

The anomaly as to who is responsible / will take responsibility outside this station came up as people are stopped from getting to trains at this station to allow people at Stratford station to get on. This causes queues outside SI as there is limited pavement space so people are spilling onto the road. There are no barriers here and the roads are controlled by Newham council. What misfortune will it take for someone to do something ?

Direct links between fans and the 3rd parties / travel companies should be set up. WHUISA have offered to be a conduit.

It seems the travel situation is not world class… yet.

WEST HAM ‘LOOK AND FEEL’

KB confirmed the club will have to deliver a clean stadium for this summer’s World Athletics Championships. This means ALL West Ham signage in, on and around the stadium will be removed at the end of this season. Such changes confirm that we are just tenants in a building that will never be our home as the Boleyn Ground was. The club are hopeful that the West Ham sign on top of the roof will stay.

STEWARDING

Stewarding produced the highest level of responses from our members. A number of individual concerns were highlighted by SAB members and I made as many points as I could. I highlighted the distrust of fans and 3rd party stewards.

The stadium is a massive operational headache for LS185 who are still learning about how to deal with a 57,000 football crowd. They felt they were doing a good job at game by game 17 but I disagreed and wondered how long it would take for a nasty incident to occur before they were good enough.

While the layout and vastness of the stadium makes the job hard maybe the ground needs to be split into traditional separate stands to make the job easier. I made this point to LS185 at the Chelsea debrief meeting last year.   

Details provided by the club on bringing back former Boleyn stewards had been raised at the bloggers / website meeting and so was not discussed at this meeting – something the SAB should be talking about.

Hard ticket checks are only employed at Blocks 112/113/114 .

These are used inside the ground as the stadium is open internally. Anyone from any area can go to any part of the ground. This causes frustration as people are not able to get used to the crowd around them as it constantly changes. This will be the way it is unless internal barriers are introduced to create specific stand areas that we were used to at the Boleyn.

Interaction procedures were due to be initiated for the Man City match but video received by WHUISA which is being made available to the club suggests some have not read the procedures yet.

While the club re-iterated their stance on people informing the club it seems there is not enough feedback from the club / Stadium operators as to what they have actually done. This should be improved.

BLOCK 114

A number of unsavoury incidents from this area such as coin throwing led to the Safety Liason Authotiy (SLA) closing this block and people were moved to block 127. This caused a multitude of issues for many innocent fans however the club said that 97 fans from this block have been banned. A return to block 114 must be authorised by the SLA. Hard ticket checks are in force in this area to stop rouge fans infiltrating the area from other parts of the stadium and coin throwing seems to have stopped.

The club want fans to return to their original seats and a significant number of fans in block 127 still wish to be relocated to block 114. Sadly this is too late for one of our fans and WHUISA founding members – Alan Walker who sadly passed away at the end of January. He was deeply upset at being moved away from the area and a number of his friends and spoke of his wish to watch his beloved West Ham from where he had worked so hard to be during the migration process. Our hope and lasting legacy to Alan must be that fans are moved back to this area as soon as possible, they are allowed to enjoy the match in the way they have done for years (singing / shouting / chanting / banter / dancing) and the club ensures coin throwers are persona non grata. 

PERSISTENT STANDING.

It was revealed that the move to a new stadium saw a decision made where there would be a drive to ensure people sat down at the match. I noted that this drive was unique to West Ham fans and unfair and reminded everyone to watch Match of the Day where you would clearly see fans standing at all Premier League grounds. This drive to make people sit in some areas of the lower tiers was counter productive.

This showed the problem in the migration process where the system failed and families / other people used to sitting at the BG became mixed with fans who had never sat down at all at the BG. This caused in fighting between West Ham fans.

It is noted the club, to their credit, have recognised this problem and have moved 450 people.

I did not receive a direct answer from Nicola Keye (NK) about whether the club would open an area specifically for families despite asking 3 times. In the small print and in the first instance a season ticket holder has the right to renew their seat. Only once this has occurred can a decision be made about relocation issues. In other words the club cannot force people to move from their seat to create a family area.

On reflection post meeting a solution to this is could be to stipulate an area that is to be a family area – say 4 /5 blocks of the Bobby Moore Upper and then those in this area currently should get the first opportunity to move to another area should they not wish to be in the family area.  Over a short period of time the club could have an official area for families.

SUPPORTERS SERVICES.

The club acknowledged issues / backlog in dealing with customer complaints and say they have improved this. However the stigma still remains that the club gets information from fans and fails to respond in a large number of cases. I know as I am still waiting for a response to a letter I sent to the chairmen of all people. WHUISA are happy to act as a conduit for fans should they wish to choose them. 

KB left for another meeting at 8pm but the SAB continued to meet for about another 40 minutes. The bloggers / website meeting was discussed and this has been addressed in my earlier post.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, W.H.U.I.S.A nor its committee.

SAB meeting London Stadium 24/01/2017

Dear Members,

                                 I attended the SAB meeting on 24/01/2017 at London Stadium and the attendees were as listed on the minutes (https://www.whufc.com/sites/default/files/inline-files/SAB%20meeting%20minutes%20270117.pdf) .

       Over 200 people from our 600 strong membership took the time to send their points of view. The documents filled 2 A4 files and I took every response into the meeting.

       On your behalf and as promised I made a number of your points during the meeting with examples to hand on each topic which are listed in the minutes. I was able to speak on to your behalf but had a huge amount of information.

      Twice I was asked to hand over all documents from the membership which I did not do. I was not going to provide the club with your personal data. Further the consensus of opinion amongst our members was that many people had previously written to the club and had not received a response at all. I include myself in this as I sent a registered post letter to the chairmen in late December which has not been acknowledged. On this basis what is there to say there would be no response to our evidence? I was not prepared to pass everything to the club without a check and balance being made on your behalf. 

       This is supported by the club admitting they had problems handling correspondence from fans from the start of the season and had now changed their system. However this should not have happened in the first place and the club should have been ready from day 1 in the new stadium to cope with queries. That damage has now been done and is one of the reasons why WHUISA was formed in order to take fan’s complaints direct to the club and get answers relayed back to them without them being lost or left unanswered. West Ham is one of the few major clubs in the country that did not have an official supporters association or Trust. We now have one.   

       WHUISA are pro-fan and not anti-board. We want to help the club with the issues raised but with the large volume of paperwork and the ‘devil being in the detail’ I was not able to get all points across in the meeting. To this end I have requested a meeting with the club to present our evidence in a formal manner which can be fed back to you by WHUISA and the club working together in an agreed and appropriate way. I await their response. 

        This was my first SAB meeting and I was left wondering for the future of the SAB. It is well known that a week earlier there was a meeting between the club and West Ham oriented websites / bloggers and internet TV. If, as we were told the SAB ‘is the forum for going forward’ why is there ongoing direct contact between the club and this group? Surely they should be part of the SAB? By being separate and having first chance to meet the club surely this undermines the credibility of the SAB and what it is meant to stand for.

       Further a meeting between the club and this group has been earmarked for April a full month before the SAB are due to meet again at the end of May. I questioned this and requested that the SAB meet monthly to get a firm grip on the issues but this was not forthcoming. It was stated at the meeting the intention would be to merge the 2 groups but with separate meetings already planned it seems this will not happen until next season which seems too late.  

        Further due to firmly established nature of the association WHUISA politely requested but were not afforded a 2nd representative at this SAB meeting. Taking an active part in the meeting and taking notes is not easy for 1 person at all. This will be why there is a delay in getting this to you as I work full time and have other responsibilities.  However as can be seen from the minutes Bondholders had 3 reps while Club London, East Upper, East Lower and Bobby Moore Upper each had 2. Disability supporters were rightly represented by 2 people due to the differing nature of disability. It is understood some groups attending the website meeting in the previous week also had 2 or more representatives.

       The SAB is the club’s primary form of direct correspondence with its fans but I was unsure on behalf of whom a number of SAB members spoke. The group has come from previous meetings and being hand-picked. During the meeting the gentleman representing the BML made a point about the outer coverings around the pitch which was very commendable. However as a season ticket holder in the BML I, and indeed anyone in the group of 40 who I go to the matches with, did not know in advance he was representing the BML. There had not been any chance prior to the meeting for us to meet / put forward any views or opinions we may have had.

       I shall state very clearly now that I am not singling this man out at all for any criticism and he was not at any fault in any way. He has been put in this situation by the club.

        This also applies to other members of the SAB, for whom I have the utmost respect for, at the meeting. For the majority at such a high profile meeting it was unclear exactly on whose behalf and under what mandate they speaking for during the meeting. I, on the other hand, have 600 people I represent and had sought their opinion and received over 200 replies. I thought that the new SAB would be about people speaking on behalf of a significant number of fellow fans. To this end I can understand the 2 SAB members speaking on behalf of fellow disabled people and I think it is disgraceful that there is not an official disability supporters association. I encouraged all other SAB members to join WHUISA so the fan’s voice could be heard in the correct and proper way through official channels with openness and transparency. WHUISA have asked for more people to come forward to represent other groups in the West Ham family and have been contacted by a disabled person while we would be happy to have the 2 reps at the meeting on board. 

        WHUISA has structure and integrity. We are a new association but are ready to work on the issues facing us all in the new stadium through open, honest and productive channels of communication with West Ham United Football Club as well as to foster a relationship of accountability.

       WHUISA shall update you when we have further news but in the meantime your feedback on the above issues is most welcome. 

Paul Christmas

Joint Chair

WHUISA.

We are the independent democratic voice of West Ham supporters