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No, I’m not talking about the new tika-taka, total football, short passing game style of play implemented by Big Sam Allardyce that has seen West Ham occupy such lofty positions as 4th in the league this year. No, I’m talking about Karren Brady and her cronies, royally taking the piss out of West Ham United’s loyal supporters by demanding season ticket cash months in advance of a ball being kicked and their promise of affordable football for all disappearing into thin air.
I have already made my feelings on West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium clear in
STAND issue #11 but having had the pleasure of Baroness Brady writing to me this week
inviting me to sign up to an exclusive member’s club within the confines of the pre-
mentioned White Elephant Stadium I feel the need to put pen to paper for this fine
publication once again.
In her letter, the Baroness suggests that I may be up for the idea of parting with £500 of my
hard earned to join this club that she and her team of marketing experts have acrimoniously
entitled ‘The Boleyn’. In addition to the initial £500 membership fee supporters who are
turned on by the idea of exclusive use of what is essentially a pretend pub with all the class
of a student bar in the new west stand of the Olympic Stadium, will also be required to sign
up to a £168 a month direct debit beginning in June 2015 for a 3 year period. In return for
this considerable financial outlay West Ham are promising members exclusive use of the bar
and café, free half-time drinks and halfway line seats, priority for cup semi-finals and finals
tickets, a dedicated VIP entrance to the Stadium, and a complimentary matchday
programme. This membership scheme is open to 1000 potential nutters who feel this is a
good deal. With the Club reserving 1000 half way line seats for this scam, oops sorry
scheme, that in turn means that the 1000 season ticket holders that currently occupy the
seats in the Boleyn Ground West Stand Lower either side of the players’ tunnel will not be
relocated to seats in the new stadium that reflect their current view as the Club’s propaganda
machine promised but will be turfed out in favour of people who simply wish to pay more.
Now as you may have guessed I’ve never really been one for the corporate side of the game
so why should I be bothered if West Ham want to con 1000 muppets into parting with large
sums of cash for free half time warm piss beer? Well, the shiny brochure that accompanied
Baroness Brady’s letter didn’t just contain details of ‘The Boleyn’ bar but also some details
as to the arrangements for season ticket renewals over the next two seasons. West Ham
had already announced that next year’s season ticket prices would be rising by around 5%.
For me personally that means an extra £32 taking the total cost of my season ticket to £684.
Now I’m prepared to pay that and that is my choice, but the Baroness has demanded that I
along with all other season tickets holders pay a deposit of £75 in April this year, before the
current season has even ended! The club state that this is due to unprecedented demand for
season tickets at what will be the last season at our home of over a hundred years. The fact
that the board have turned a stadium move, which many supporters do not want, into a
marketing ploy makes this pill the more bitter to swallow. A £75 deposit is, in effect, asking
for 20,000 season ticket holders to give the club a £1.5m interest free loan. Nice bit of
business there Baroness!!
It gets better. Season ticket holders for 2015/16 will receive an appointment to attend West
Ham United’s Olympic Stadium Reservation Centre in Westfield Stratford. These
appointments take place between April this year and February 2016 and once there
supporters will be asked to choose their new seat at the Olympic Stadium using some kind
of virtual reality computer and to promptly cough up a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the
season ticket price!
We have been told that 2016/17 Olympic Stadium season ticket prices will be ‘comparable’
to that of 2015/16 the last season at the Boleyn Ground. Anyone with an ounce of sense can
see that this means another price hike of around 5 – 10% so the Club will pocket another
interest free loan from its loyal fan base to the tune of around £5m.
For supporters who have been attending games at the Boleyn for as long as I have these
latest ticket announcements bring back harrowing memories of the hated Bond Scheme that
in the early 1990s saw the relationship between club and supporter reach an all-time low
with vocal and visible demonstrations on the terraces and often spilling onto the pitch.
The rumblings among West Ham fans is that, had all this information been available up front,
then maybe the Club wouldn’t have been able to so proudly state that 85% of supporters
(who bothered to complete their online survey) were in favour of the move to the Olympic
Stadium. Some are going as far as to say that rather than cough up the 25% deposit for a
seat that they will only have experienced on what might as well be a game of FIFA on a
PlayStation, they will wait until the season kicks off and buy tickets on a game to game to
basis. The logic being that with 20,000 extra seats to fill there will be plenty of room for
anyone who fancies going and the need for a season ticket goes out the window.
The West Ham board remain convinced that this stadium move will attract more customers
through their doors but weather it is at the cost of losing life long supporters remains to be
Words By: Keke Mylläri