West Ham have humiliated themselves – and their fans – more than ever

Ben Mountain

As far as woeful starts to a season go, West Ham United have had a pretty bad one. Ever since leaving the Boleyn Ground, or Upton Park as we all called it prior to last season, things have gone to pot for the Hammers. And now they’ve gotten even worse…

Its difficult to find the words to break this gently but at yesterday’s game against Southampton, pre-recorded crowd noises were reportedly played over the tannoy. Yes, you read that right. Pre-recorded crowd noises.

David Gold, in all his wisdom, has taken another great big shit on his club here. As if removing standing fans wasn’t a big enough farce…

So, at the London Ground, (or Olympic Park, as we all called it prior to last season) creating an atmosphere has been discouraged through a strict bums-on-seats policy, seating fans neatly behind their colossal athletics track and wins being less regular than Andy Carroll has haircuts. But they’ve changed their minds on atmosphere now. Fans have clearly let themselves down in *not* creating a buzz as they were initially prescribed to do and so the owners have had to bare the burden themselves.

Artificial crowd noises through a fucking PA system.

Were the options not present to the board at West Ham before to encourage an atmosphere? Did they not consider having vocal areas suggested or, surely not, experiment with a safe standing area? Is entertaining football, pre-match hype and a strong core fan base not manipulable enough to create a bit of noise? Realistically, they could always stop calling fans ‘customers’ and treat them with some respect. Who knows, someone could have even suggested staying at Upton Park. But no, canned cheering seemed a more viable option.

And as for going back to Boleyn, Pierce Brosnan naused that one up…

Then maybe change that lifeless badge? Or even the ‘look we’re cockneys and we’ve got heritage, okay?’ name of the stadium. There really are better options out there for the West Ham decision makers to re-invigorate some respect and identity at West Ham than this diabolical move.

Now, it’s quite funny watching another club’s horror show for a while and we may all laugh at the expense of the Irons but there is a worrying undercurrent to this situation. The hoards of fans heading for a propa fuckin’ knees up, no doubt, rather than staying to watch their team recently has been a shambles at West Ham. But surely it stems beyond poor performances all that way away out on the pitch.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en-gb”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>West Ham may escape being booed off as everyone&#39;s gone home <a href=”https://t.co/STEK3ljI1j”>pic.twitter.com/STEK3ljI1j</a></p>&mdash; Ian Abrahams (Moose) (@BroadcastMoose) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BroadcastMoose/status/780086539690868736″>25 September 2016</a></blockquote>
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Imagine, for the non-Hammers of you at least, sitting (for fear of expulsion) in a brand new, characterless stadium; as ‘customers’ of your beloved club and then having an ‘atmosphere’ forced upon you via a speaker. Could you bare the humiliation of being told you’re not passionate enough and your club are so desperate for sound that someone has been paid to record you at your best, turn the volume up and blare it through the tannoys to appease those watching on a sofa and subsequently maintain the club’s image? What fan could sit through that for an entire season and be expected to sing and chant? I’m no Hammer but really this should resonate with us all over the country, supposed cockneys or not. It’s a dagger to the heart of any passionate supporter when their club becomes such a laughing stock. It’s as if those in charge have drawn up a list of how best they can take the piss out of those paying their wages. That’s where the insult lies. The humiliation is being guided by those in charge, those assigned to protect and promote the club in the best interest of the fans.

What else could bring nationwide humiliation to our defenceless fans, lads? How best can we really mug them off? Ah, got it…

There was an actual process behind this. Someone at West Ham had to be disillusioned enough to suggest the idea in the first place. Several people had to be short-sighted enough to approve it. Another mug had to grab his equipment and record the fans for an even bigger mug to edit and compile it. Then the biggest mug of all had to press play.

It’s a worrying moment when a decision like this is genuinely approved and acted upon. How delirious do our owners have to be? Along with all the other cock-ups in East London’s home of football, the board at West Ham have really added the straw to the camel’s back this time. It’s a symbol of football today. Essentially, the canned cheering was a poorly made business move. Allowing tax-payers money to subsidise the stadium was a poorly advised business move. Calling the fans ‘customers’ was a poor business move.

It goes on… The fact of the matter is, football clubs today are largely run by businessmen who invest a vast amount of money in a business – not a club. Whilst this may not be a groundbreaking suggestion, it is epitomised perfectly by tannoy-gate and we should pay attention. These businessmen run the clubs from an office, under a white collar over a fan-funded corporate dinner and they run them without a clue on what being a football fan is like. If they did, surely, West Ham fans wouldn’t have had to endure Monday’s embarrassing fiasco. If they did, ticket prices would plunge. If they did, shirts would be affordable, fixtures wouldn’t send fans to the other side of the country before work, fans could stand and enjoy the game they pay for.

The list goes on.

Unfortunately it sums up everything that offends and let’s be honest, upsets, football fans nationwide. Because we all know a club is more than a business to its fans, no matter what level it’s at. It’s time the owners of English clubs re-engaged with why football is the most popular and (in their eyes) lucrative sport in the world. We know it, why don’t they? Perhaps if they did, West Ham fans can start singing themselves again.

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