No, I’m not talking about the new tika-taka, total football, short passing game style of playimplemented by Big Sam Allardyce that has seen West Ham occupy such lofty positions as4th in the league this year. No, I’m talking about Karren Brady and her cronies, royally takingthe piss out of West Ham United’s loyal supporters by demanding season ticket cash monthsin advance of a ball being kicked and their promise of affordable football for all disappearinginto thin air.
I have already made my feelings on West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium clear inSTAND issue #11 but having had the pleasure of Baroness Brady writing to me this weekinviting 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 finepublication once again.
In her letter, the Baroness suggests that I may be up for the idea of parting with £500 of myhard earned to join this club that she and her team of marketing experts have acrimoniouslyentitled ‘The Boleyn’. In addition to the initial £500 membership fee supporters who areturned on by the idea of exclusive use of what is essentially a pretend pub with all the classof a student bar in the new west stand of the Olympic Stadium, will also be required to signup to a £168 a month direct debit beginning in June 2015 for a 3 year period. In return forthis considerable financial outlay West Ham are promising members exclusive use of the barand café, free half-time drinks and halfway line seats, priority for cup semi-finals and finalstickets, a dedicated VIP entrance to the Stadium, and a complimentary matchdayprogramme. This membership scheme is open to 1000 potential nutters who feel this is agood deal. With the Club reserving 1000 half way line seats for this scam, oops sorryscheme, that in turn means that the 1000 season ticket holders that currently occupy theseats in the Boleyn Ground West Stand Lower either side of the players’ tunnel will not berelocated to seats in the new stadium that reflect their current view as the Club’s propagandamachine 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 gameso why should I be bothered if West Ham want to con 1000 muppets into parting with largesums of cash for free half time warm piss beer? Well, the shiny brochure that accompaniedBaroness Brady’s letter didn’t just contain details of ‘The Boleyn’ bar but also some detailsas to the arrangements for season ticket renewals over the next two seasons. West Hamhad 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 Ialong with all other season tickets holders pay a deposit of £75 in April this year, before thecurrent season has even ended! The club state that this is due to unprecedented demand forseason tickets at what will be the last season at our home of over a hundred years. The factthat the board have turned a stadium move, which many supporters do not want, into amarketing ploy makes this pill the more bitter to swallow. A £75 deposit is, in effect, askingfor 20,000 season ticket holders to give the club a £1.5m interest free loan. Nice bit ofbusiness there Baroness!!
It gets better. Season ticket holders for 2015/16 will receive an appointment to attend WestHam United’s Olympic Stadium Reservation Centre in Westfield Stratford. Theseappointments take place between April this year and February 2016 and once theresupporters will be asked to choose their new seat at the Olympic Stadium using some kindof virtual reality computer and to promptly cough up a non-refundable deposit of 25% of theseason 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 cansee that this means another price hike of around 5 – 10% so the Club will pocket anotherinterest 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 theselatest ticket announcements bring back harrowing memories of the hated Bond Scheme thatin the early 1990s saw the relationship between club and supporter reach an all-time lowwith 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 OlympicStadium. Some are going as far as to say that rather than cough up the 25% deposit for aseat that they will only have experienced on what might as well be a game of FIFA on aPlayStation, they will wait until the season kicks off and buy tickets on a game to game tobasis. The logic being that with 20,000 extra seats to fill there will be plenty of room foranyone 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 customersthrough their doors but weather it is at the cost of losing life long supporters remains to beseen.Words By: Keke Mylläri@kekemyllari