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.

SAB meeting 24/01/2017 London Stadium.

Here is a brief update with further information to follow.

On behalf of WHUISA i attended the SAB meeting on 24/01/17 at LS. 19 other people attended along with 9 representatives from West Ham.

The meeting was chaired by Karren Brady and Tara Warren. It lasted for about 3 hours. People were invited to ask questions to a panel which included a representative of LS185. Every single email (over 200) from a member who responded was taken to the meeting and i used members information where possible on all subjects raised. The meeting was open, not held under Chatham House rules and there were no non-disclosure agreements.  The club will publish minutes shortly and a full report from notes taken will be published as soon as possible for our members.

During the course of the evening lines of communication were firmly established with club. The club also recognised the hard work put in by the association to get to this current point in a short space of time and for the contribution made by its members to the meeting.

I met briefly with most / all other SAB members present. It was good to hear their points of view in the meeting and speak to them afterwards. They were made aware of WHUISA and given one of our business cards.

WHUISA look forward to further working closely with the club and other SAB members where possible on all matters raised by our membership for the benefit of West Ham United Football Club.

Paul

Joint Chair WHUISA

 

 

 

The SAB past, present and…future?

W.H.U.I.S.A. will be attending the SAB meeting tonight after 87%, of just over 200 members who responded, advised us to go.  Thank you.

The huge response covers all topics in the agenda and really shows how strongly you feel about the move to the new stadium. There is a cross section of views and solutions from members in all parts of the ground (except the away end!), the majority of our members are season ticket holders while responses have been received from New Zealand, Australia, U.S.A. and a number of countries in Europe.

WHUISA is looking forward to this opportunity and to that end shall be speaking directly on your behalf this evening.

The SAB was had a very mixed press over the years and this a topic now taken up by one of our committee members.

 

My name is Nigel Kahn and i am a member of the interim committee of W.H.U.I.S.A,

In the first of what i hope will be many blogs, written by members of the committee into the workings of W.H.U.I.S.A and our own personal thoughts on the club I have written the following as I spent 5 years on the SAB dealing with the club officials.

As you all know, W.H.U.I.S.A has been invited to attend the clubs Supporters Advisory Board and as a member of the W.H.U.I.S.A committee and a former member of the SAB i thought i would use this blog to try explain the workings of the SAB. It has, in my opinion, a bad impression amongst fans who have been tainted by the use of non disclosure orders (N.D.A’s) during the Olympic stadium consultation process.

I was present from the first SAB meeting held, just after relegation in 2011, attended by approaching 120 fans, it was hosted by David Sullivan with his son Jack sitting next to him. As it was the first meeting, it mainly consisted of short presentations by the club with question and answer by the supporters in attendance.

I have possibly attended 12 SAB meetings across the 5 years formats inception in 2011 to 2016 when i felt with the move to the OS i had fulfilled what i wanted as a member.

One thing that has haunted the SAB was the use of N.D.A’s that all members had to sign prior to entering the meeting, this was to enable the club to control the flow of information from attendees to the general fan base and basically make sure that no commercial sensitive information would be revealed to possibly their competitors for the stadium. Problem is that many of the supporters thought this stopped them from revealing anything they had seen in the meeting, which wasn’t true. The club in my opinion though did not clarify this as perhaps they preferred the non information coming from the meetings.

To many fans though they felt the fans were not actually representing the very people we were supposed to be representing.

A typical SAB meeting starts with a short speech by the club official hosting the meeting, then they go to pre sent in questions with some limited scope for further questions on that subject from the floor.

The fact that questions had to be pre submitted again raised suspicion amongst the general fan population that the club was cherry picking the questions, i myself never pre submitted any questions preferring to raise questions on the day.

The first SAB lasted 2 years and met proximately 5 times in that period, this covered mainly the bid for the Olympic stadium, while the fans though felt gagged by the NDAs, Karren Brady though would reveal snippets in her Sun column, which in a way flew in the face of the secrecy the club wanted the SAB to work under. While i disagreed with the NDAs personally, i did sign them as it was better to be inside the meeting knowing what was said, rather than outside, complaining without knowing what was going on. I stood against the move from the Boleyn and used the SAB to put across that direct to the club, including directly to David Gold and Karren Brady.

I was in the minority though in that stance, a fact that Brady revealed in one of her Sun columns when crowing that in a vote, over 100 voted in favour of the clubs plan to move, 11 abstained and just 2 voted no. She then added if it was gold plated and free they will still would’ve voted no, which i don’t deny.

After the move was rubber stamped, the SAB was dissolved and then relaunched with a smaller more defined remit. 60 members would be split into groups, including stadium migration, media, and Farewell to the Boleyn.

I chose with 11 others the Farewell to the Boleyn. The group met a couple of times only in late 2013 and early 2014, we then put out to the fan base what they would like to see happening that season.

I wouldn’t say the club wasted our time, or ignored what the group came up with, but a year later after a full detailed report had been submitted of themed games, entertainment, ways of recognising the leaving of the ground that had been our home for 112 years and to what last kit we would want to see worn, the club then repeated that request to the SAB. In fact in 2014 the club asked members of the SAB to bring their favourite west ham shirt to a special meeting, to gain ideas of the last kit to be worn.

Great in theory, except that it seems that clubs plan their kits 2 years in advance with the manufacturers to allow for designs and the kits to be made. Yet the SAB, just a year before we would wear that kit, were being asked to engage with the club and other fans what they would like. I’d just like to point out that i personally think the kit worn in the last season of the Boleyn may go down as one of the best they have done, after the 1976-80 kit and the 85-87 kits, yet, not 1 fan in the consultation process asked for a remake of the 1904 kit. So if the SAB had any effect i fail to see what it was. Infant id go as far to say that the club basically wasted the attendees time, they must of known already what kit they were having yet went through a charade of asking the fans.

When taken at face value, it is another reason that while i was a member of the SAB for the first 5 years of its existence, i never took it to be anything of substance nor can i think of anything of note it achieved.

So here we are again, another relaunch of the SAB, now slimmed to a more manageable 20 fans with W.H.U.I.S.A being afforded 1 seat at the table. I hope they club have learned from the mistakes of the past and that this version of the SAB will be able to really help shape the fan/club relationship. I do have my doubts though. Those doubt’s were highlighted by the secret meeting of the club and those that run the main social media outlets a week before the SAB meets.

I have watched the videos put out by the vloggers, and the articles by the bloggers and they have revealed some details of their meeting with Karren Brady. Stewarding was a big topic of the meeting, the ticketing exchange, the pouring of the beer in advance and shelving to put your drinks on around the concourse. Also the disabled bus was spoken about and it seems, looking at the West Ham Fan TV tweet, where they revealed Karren Bradys email to the meeting attendees that showed she had acted on many of their concerns raised. A good move by the club, but where does that leave the SAB, what do they get to discuss and resolve as it seems all the major fan concerns have been raised and dealt with. West Ham Fan TV in their post meeting video pointed out that Brady was keen to keep meeting the social media protagonists regular, again, the past of the SAB showed meetings were very irregular so will they be afforded the same courtesy ?

As W.H.U.I.S.A are the only attending members that are answerable to the fanbase, and specifically you our members, you will be fully kept up to date with what happens in the SAB and its outcomes.

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.

WHUISA update 19/01/2017

WHUSIA UPDATE : LAST TUESDAY, SAB,  & POSSIBLE OPEN MEETING.

Hello WHUISA-ers,

After an interesting couple of days we’d just thought we’d give you an update of where we are.

You’ve probably seen all the stuff on social media, KUMB, etc about Tuesday night and how we were excluded from a meeting at 45 minutes notice.

We were very disappointed with the way it was handled and we let the club know that.  There’s various stuff going around suggesting we were never invited etc. but that is not true.

But, what’s been done, has been done and we need to get on with the business of getting your voices heard and seeing if the club is actually prepared to listen to fans’ concerns

Which bring us to next week’s SAB.

Reading the reports of last Tuesday’s meeting there seem to be plenty of stuff that didn’t come up, what do you want the people going to talk about? We have a lot of feedback from previous emails but do you think things have improved/got worse over the last few weeks? Crushes/queues getting in and out of the stadium? The world class transport links?  Stewarding? Has anyone who is a member been banned? What would you like the message we give to the board to be?

After the SAB we are thinking about having a WHUISA general meeting? We’ve mentioned this before but would you definitely attend something on Saturday 28th? The advantage is that it’s not a matchday so we don’t have the rush of getting away to meet mates and get to the game, the disadvantage is that it’s not a matchday so you’d have to make a special journey.  If you are up for coming, let us know… We’ll look at numbers and decide

Membership is on the up if you know someone who hasn’t joined, have a word and send them this link http://www.whuisa.org/join-whuisa/

A few of our members are at the ‘Boro game this weekend distributing information on our behalf for which we are very thankful.

We plan to extend this to the Man City match and so are looking for members to help on the night. Please contact us on enquiries@whuisa.org if you are willing to help.

If you haven’t signed up to our social media accounts, please do;

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WHU_ISA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WHUISA/

Your WHUSIA Interim Committee

WHUISA Update 17-01-17

Dear WHUISA members. 

First of all, thanks to all of you that took part in the #WHUISA matchday social media event on Saturday, it went brilliantly. It mainly took off on Twitter and we put together some highlights of what we saw here.

https://twitter.com/i/moments/820645899835674624

We really couldn’t have done it without you, it’s a great first step to establish a presence.

The video of WHUISA member Mark Gower talking about what it’s like being a disabled fan has been picked up the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) and hopefully we can do some work on this at the SAB next week

 screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-13-54-43

We’re in the early stages of establishing contacts with the club and to be fair we think Jake Heath, the official Supporters’ Liaison Officer (SLO), has been very supportive of the new organisation. He has been available to speak to and has engaged with us from an initial meeting In October last year at the FSF organised debrief following the Chelsea league cup match.  

You may have seen a series of tweets on Saturday about a situation where Mark Gervaux, AKA “the Ribman” was talking about overhearing “a steward” saying he was aiming to kick out 250 fans for standing to make a point.  The club saw some of the tweets on our @WHU_ISA timeline and looked into it. Jake Heath called us on Sunday to say the problem was caused not by a steward but by one of their new Supporter’s Liaison Office (SLO) volunteers, a proper West Ham fan, who was stepped out of his remit and said something he shouldn’t have.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-13-55-09

He also said that the club wanted to emphasise that the new SLO’s had no jurisdiction over safety and enforcing ground regulations but were there solely to assist and advise fans on any problems they may encounter while in the ground.  We were happy to help put the record straight.  Further the SLO concerned will not be returning to his role. We’re aiming to understand more about SLO’s at the forthcoming SAB

Going forward we are planning to meet with Jake and other representatives of West Ham United ahead of next Tuesday’s SAB meeting.

We’ve also seen a few tweets and remarks on websites about bans being handed out by letter without warning.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-13-55-45

If this has happened to any of you please contact us and we’ll try to bring it to the club’s attention / get to the bottom of it. Remember if you feel you need help with police or stewarding issues the mighty Amanda Jacks from the FSF is there to help. Her details are on here: https://twitter.com/FSF_FairCop

The WHUISA membership is probably over 500 properly now – we’re just waiting for our computer guru to weed out those who we have contacted and were found to have registered accidentally twice.

We have over 1200 members of the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/WHUISA/

And over 400 followers on twitter https://twitter.com/WHU_ISA

Those figures aren’t too shabby considering we’ve only been up and running for 17 days. If you’re on social media and haven’t joined our accounts, please do so, it matters.

If you know anyone who hasn’t joined WHUISA yet, send them this link and give ‘em a nudge! http://www.whuisa.org/join-whuisa/

So what happens now?

The next big event is the SAB and we are looking at trying to hold a meeting to report back on this and get some sense of how you think things are going so far. We were thinking about doing something on a non matchday? What do you think about that? Possibly the 28th February at the Old Supporters Club? Let us know what you think about that idea.

We’re also looking at getting more people involved. We would like to have on board representatives of sections of our fanbase such as the ladies, younger fans, disabled supporters, UK & overseas Hammers clubs, LGBT amongst others so please get in touch – you are welcome at the top table.

Anyway, we hope you all enjoyed a fabulous win on Saturday, good luck to anyone travelling to Middlesbrough and keep talking to us – we are only as strong as our members. 

The WHUISA Interim Committee (we are aware we need to elect a full committee at some point too….)

WHUISA Update (9/01/2017)


First many thanks indeed to all those (115 so far) who have responded from 5 minutes away from to where i live to New Zealand.

For those of you yet to reply please do as soon as you can as the more responses we have the more credible we are.

Feedback has been excellent and plentiful whether you are for or against the SAB meeting.

What is clear is the very strong feeling for a number of aspects to
change. Wherever we can we will pass on this message and let you know how things went.

WHUISA will be involved with a number of organisations on your behalf.

We are working hard to set this association up for the long term and your support has helped us immensely.

With feedback from you we, the committee of WHUISA, can ask the questionsto you the members and take your responses as a whole as our guidance /direction.

Keep an eye out for further details on our website, Facebook page and other social media such as KUMB who have kindly allowed us to have a dedicated thread.

I am sorry that i am not able to reply personally (at present) to e-mails received but the whole committee want to thank you for your time and effort in supporting WHUISA.
 
Always West Ham United.

Paul
Joint chair
WHUISA

WELCOME

Welcome to the website of the West Ham United Independent Supporters Association – WHUISA.

Our aim is to provide a democratic, fully independent and self-funding structure through which all West Ham fans can voice their opinions without censure on matters that are important to us as well as express their support of our Club.

WHUISA is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation run by the fans for fans. We believe that by coming together under a single banner the myriad of opinion / views from all our fan base especially at this crucial time in our history we can move forward together as a strong group with a real mandate from you the fans to have a pivotal influence through frank and open channels of communication, based on mutual respect and accountability, with our Club, its owners, the board and Stadium / 3rd party operators. We aim to work tirelessly to achieve this.

With honesty and integrity we aim to represent and campaign with West Ham Supporters Clubs across the British Isles and with our overseas fans whom we admire greatly for supporting the Hammers thus giving a voice to those who would otherwise be excluded from any decision or consultation processes.
In promoting your views on the club to the relevant football bodies’, government departments and broadcast media at national and international levels we will also work alongside numerous West Ham websites / forums / social media as well as other supporter representation organisations and national organisations such as the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) with whom we are an affiliate member and Supporters Direct (SD).

We will also look to work closely with the local community we have moved into to provide a strong foundation for our new home.

We wish to establish a positive and effective relationship with West Ham United Football Club. To help us succeed in putting your views forward we need as many West Ham fans as possible to join and be involved with us.

Football is for the fans – become a member of WHUISA and together let’s get the voice and opinion of all West Ham fans heard loud and clear over land and sea !

COME ON YOU IRONS !!!

We are the independent democratic voice of West Ham supporters