Monday, September 12

Fighting among ourselves?

Plenty of coverage in the media about the isolated disturbances in the crowd on Saturday. There was a minor fracas behind me in the East Stand, which seemed to be about rudeness. Although a lot of people stood up and tried to calm the incident the response from stewards was very slow, even if it did prove to be all bluster. 

Many of the stewards look lightweight and appear to be more used to controlling concerts rather than high-profile football matches. Certainly the segregation between the West Ham fans and Watford fans looked woeful, with just a few empty seats and some overworked stewards dividing the fans. And not having any police presence in the stadium seems a huge risk.

The Daily Mail gives quite a good overview, revealing that West Ham don't control the stadium security, it's the E20 partnership, set up by the London Stadium Legacy Corporation and Newham Council. E20 employs the Orwellian-sounding stadium operator LS185 (actually named after Britain's medal tally) to steward the stadium.

Leaks on twitter suggest that experienced stewards from Upton Park are being sidelined and you really hope that the new stewards are properly paid, on proper contracts and fully motivated rather than the cheapest option. Where fans are standing up it's clearly best if stewards who know the fans get involved first.

It's inevitable there will be some early problems with the new stadium, but this clearly needs sorting fast. I'd say it's ok to stand up if there's a goal or near miss, but if fans behind you object to standing up all game then don't do it. Though there are also reports of heavy-handed stewarding and unnecessary expulsions, so perhaps a period of calm is needed on all sides. At least the club and E20 are now having urgent talks.

And while we're at it, could everybody stay in their seats for 90 minutes. We should support our team for the whole match, whatever the score. We're not Arsenal. Please, no more fire drills.

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