Talking Point

The West Ham Season Ticket Renewal Scenario

West Ham proudly announced had a record breaking day in the Ticket Office with over 9,360 supporters renewing their season tickets at the London Stadium for next season. That is a new record for the club and accounts for eighteen per cent of the current fifty-two thousand season ticket holders. A club insider said that previous renewals at the Boleyn Ground amounted to around three hundred on day one of the renewal window.

The announcement followed the confirmation that season ticket renews would be frozen in price but I am guessing that new season ticket will slightly rise when they become available as the club has made it clear the price freeze refers to renews only.

There is a little bit of marketing spin in these record figures. The 52,000 season ticket holders include up to 3,600 corporate Club London members all of which have signed up for three years so their automatic renewal was contractually obliged. Next was 3,000 band 5 season holders who paid two years up front when we increased from 54,000 to 57,000 capacity. They were renewed automatically too last Monday without lifting a finger.

Don’t get me wrong, the renewal of over 2,760 season ticket holders in one day was still an impressive feat considering that just a few hundred would renew on the day on before the move. Many of these early renewals are being driven by the promise of priority of relocation within the London Stadium on a first come, first served approach.

The logistics of how this mass migration will be completed is still unclear but it is potentially a logistical nightmare with thousands wanting to move seats.

On the financial side Interest-free credit for four months subject to a £30 admin fee and a low-interest loan at 6% over ten months (down from 19.9%) are also helping to spread the financial pain to supporters which is always welcome.

Reports that current away season tickets will not receive priority have been dismissed by the club as simply not true. I have been told that current away season ticket holders will receive priority if they sign up before the May deadline with the remaining allocation being sold on a first come, first served basis. However, the club do say the allocation of five hundred in the away scheme has never sold out in reality.

Season tickets holders will be able to both upgrade and downgrade bands in the relocation window subject to availability of seats elsewhere. You will first need to renew your season ticket at the current price and if you are successful with your band downgrade you will be credited back the money to you.

Upgrades from any of 10,000 junior season tickets to adult will be permitted but upgrades from junior to adult will not be allowed. The Under 16 season ticket holders will undergo an identity verification process before the beginning of September.

In twitter poll on social media of 400 season ticket holders 61% said they would renew their season ticket with 39% claiming they would not.

KUMB also ran a poll on their forums with nearly 300 voting. 41% said Yes 39% No with 18% Unsure

The London Stadium survey published yesterday had 4,392 supporters who claimed they were active season ticket holders.

2,546 fans say they will renew their season tickets which is around 58%, just 17% claim they won’t renew their season tickets which could account for as many as 8,840 seats if they really mean what they say! 1,082 were undecided which account for the remaining 25%; again history tells us many of them will bite the bullet and renew as the deadline gets closer so renewals could be as high as 83%. With a doubling of season ticket holders from 26,000 to 52,000 last season we were never going to get 100% renewals and not all of the reasons for non-renewal will be down to the London Stadium.

With the club claiming there are now 55,000 on the £10 waiting list for a season ticket holder we will soon see how many of those non-renewed season ticket seats are snapped up by the waiting list.

The club is keen to stress that this year the May deadline is the absolute deadline and you will lose your seat if you don’t renew in time. In previous years we have seen extensions for absent minded fans.

Key Dates

Friday 14 April Deadline for online Monthly Payment Plan applications. Applications can still be made before the renewal deadline but they must be made in person or by calling the Ticket Office.

Wednesday 31 May Renewal deadline. Make sure you renew by 5pm as, following this date, your seat will be made available to Season Ticket Holders wishing to relocate and offered to the 55,000-plus supporters on the Waiting List.

Thursday 1 June Priority relocation window opens. Seat relocations will be subject to seat availability at the end of the renewal window. Relocations will be prioritised by how early you renew your Season Ticket, and the priority window slots will be communicated to supporters nearer the time.

Thursday 15 June Priority relocation window closes.

Friday 16 June Season Tickets on sale to Waiting List.


Talking Point

In Slaven Bilic We (Still) Trust ... Don't We?

Sometimes we fans are a fickle lot. Lose three matches on the spin and the players are all rubbish. The manager must go. It’s verging on the ridiculous. We forget previous successes, we forget that much the same team (with one big and rather obvious exception) nearly qualified for the Champions League last season. We forget that moving to a new stadium was always going to make this season more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Heads are called for. The manager is incompetent and every player should be transferred out of the club as soon as practically possible.

What utter tosh.

Sometimes we should be careful what we wish for. Sometimes it really is worth sticking with nurse for fear of something worse, and this is one of those times. Look, I’m not stupid, I recognise that this season has seen some pretty inexplicable things happening at West Ham. We have a manager who was one of the best defenders ever to wear the claret & blue short, yet so far this season we have conceded 52 goals. In the whole of last season we conceded 51. We can’t just blame it on injuries and the fact that we have rarely played with the same back four. It goes deeper than that. In part it’s because we haven’t had a regular back four. Sam Byram has never really been given a chance. OK, he has been injured but when he’s fit why not play him so he gets a run in the team? He’s had one bad game and now we are told that he isn’t really rated and will be moved on in the summer. We’re now down to the bare bones in central defence with the injury to Winston Reid. So why did we loan out both the Reeces? Ask me another.

Do I lay that all at Bilic’s door? Well yes, I suppose I do, but even then, it’s not enough for me to want him gone. I want him to stay because I can see what he is trying to achieve. He buys into West Ham in a way that few other managers could. Do we seriously believe Roberto Mancini would see West Ham as anything other than a stepping stone to get back into managing a Champions League club? His awful defensive way of playing would make us all hanker after Sam Allardyce within a few weeks. And I’m not joking. Has he ever managed a club that didn’t have zillions of spondoolicks for him to waste? No. Could he relate to ‘the West Ham Way’? If you’re David Sullivan or Karren Brady and you’re reading this, rearrange these words into a sentence – touch with a don’t bargepole.

Are there any British managers who we’d be crying out to recruit? I can think of a few who might fancy their chances, and even do a decent job – Gary Monk being one – but what confidence would we have that they’d be any better than what we have got.

The truth is, even though the current team have been frustrating to watch this season, at times, they have played excellent football. The trouble is they haven’t managed it over a ninety minute period. Too often we’ve been brilliant for the first half an hour and then withered away (Watford home, for example). Too often we’ve been useless for the first half and then only sparked into life in the second half (cf Leicester home). We’ve been consistently inconsistent.

Given that we were at one point firmly anchored in the bottom three, we now hover between 9th and 12th. It could have been oh so different.

It’s not that we’re not scoring goals. We are. We’ve scored 40 in 29, a more than acceptable return in some ways. Our attacking play has sometimes been scintillating, but we didn’t get that 20 goal a striker we were promised in the summer. No it is not. Yes, some of his signings have been ropey – Zaza and Tore are the two most blatant examples, but the fact is they were loan signings. But there’s plenty on the other side of the balance sheet. Obiang. Lanzini. Antonio. Just for starters. All managers buy duds as well as the odd jewel and Bilic is no different.

Who could have foreseen what would happen with Payet. We were all taken in by him. When the situation became intolerable Bilic fronted up and told us exactly what had happened. I don’t think a single one of us blamed anyone other than Payet. So far as I am concerned Bilic did the only thing he could. He didn’t bullshit us, even though he so easily could have.

We’re told that Bilic needs to finish 8th or 9th to get an extension to his contract, and he needs to finish tenth to avoid the sack. Well that’s just plain ridiculous. Given our trials and tribulations I regard anything above 14th as a decent season. My guess is that we’ll finish between 10th and 12th.

In some ways it’s up to the players. If we get to 40 points in the next few games there is a real possibility that they will switch off and mentally go on holiday. For Bilic that could be fatal. So in the end they have got to decide: do we want Slaven as our manager next season, or do we not? We will soon get our answer.

Given our injuries, if I were Slaven I’d change the team around a bit. The first thing I would do is tell Edimilson Fernandes that we had a first team start for every game for the rest of the season. He’s brilliant in every game he’s played. He has an eye for goal, he can beat players, he’s quick, he’s strong and he can tackle. Yes, he has the odd rush to the head, but he’s young and fairly inexperienced. He may be one for the future but he’s also one for the present. If Slaven gives Fernandes a chance he’ll play his guts out for him.

Well that’s the case for the defence, even if I have gone out of my way to point out some of Bilic’s weaknesses. I have every confidence that he will succeed and that if we recruit three or four top class players in the summer and get rid of some of the dead wood we can have a really good season next time around.

It’s the hope that kills you, eh?


Poll

The London Stadium Poll - The Results

Statistics by Iain Dale
Commentary by Sean Whetstone

With 6,356 match going supporters filling out this survey it has to be the biggest of its kind and statistically accurate to make the findings a true reflection of fans’ perceptions of the London Stadium. There is no evidence that the survey was hijacked by rival fans or protest groups with hidden agendas. The Board may not like these results but we all understand it is early days in our ninety-nine year tenancy and the first year was always going to be a difficult one.

Age

18-24 26%
25-34 17%
35-44 16%
45-54 22%
55-64 14%
65-74 4%
75+ 1%

How long have you been supporting West Ham?

Less than a year 1%
2-5 years 2%
6-10 3%
11-15 7%
16-20 14%
21-25 12%
26-30 10%
31-40 19%
41-50 20%
50+ 12%

How many games have you attended at the London Stadium since we moved in August?

1 9%
2-5 18%
6-10 15%
11-15 13%
16-19 27%
All 20 18%

After seven months in the London Stadium do you still believe that the move was a good idea?

Yes 34%
No 38%
Not sure 28%

West Ham’s Official Poll before the move showed 85% of supporters backed the move, 10% wanted more information and 5% were against the move. These new results show only a third still believe it was the right thing to do, less than a third are undecided with nearly 40% saying it was not a good idea in hindsight.

When will the London stadium feel like our proper home?

It does already 6%
Next season 13%
2-5 seasons 41%
6-10 seasons 6%
+10 seasons 4%
It never will 30%

Only 19% believe it will feel like our proper home by the end of next season but 41% believe it will feel like home within 5 more years. More tellingly is the 30% who say it will never be our home. Let’s hope that 30% change their mind.

If you are a season ticket holder do you plan to renew for next season?

Yes 40%
No 12%
Not sure 17%
Not a season ticket holder 23%
On the waiting list 8%

This shows that around 69% of those filling out the survey claim they are season ticket holders who account for 4,392 supporters. 2,546 say they will renew their season tickets which is just under 58%, just 17% say they won’t renew their season tickets which could account for 8,840 seats if they really mean what they say! 1,082 were undecided which account for the remaining 25%; again history tells us many of them will bite the bullet and renew as the deadline gets closer so renewals could be as high as 83%. With a doubling of season ticket holders from 26,000 to 52,000 last season we were never going to get 100% renewals and not all of the reasons for non renewal will be down to the London Stadium.

If you are a season ticket holder have you ever used ticket exchange functionality for matches you can’t make?

I never miss a game 28%
Yes sometimes 15%
Yes, every time I can’t go 8%
Not worth it financially 39%
I prefer to leave my seat empty 10%

Good to see that 28% never miss a game but disappointing that only 23% of the respondents say they use the functionality when they can’t make a game. 49% seem to say they don’t want to help their fellow Hammers fans without a ticket watch a match and this is possibly the main reason we can see so many empty white seats on match days. The club needs to do more to fix the perception of this service and get a greater take-up.

If you are a season ticket holder were your expectations managed well before the move to the new Stadium?

Stadium as expected 32%
Stadium worse than expected 62%
Stadium better than expected 6%

This is possibly the most disappointing result from the survey. It indicates that 62% believe they were mis-sold in communications and their Stratford reservation visit. Only 6% would admit to the stadium being better than expected.

What is your view on the general matchday atmosphere at the London Stadium in terms of volume and support for the team?

Excellent 3%
Good 24%
Average 44%
Poor 29%

No surprise here, maybe the 3% only went to the Chelsea cup game or the Palace game which could be described as excellent, but we have had everything in between and the atmosphere needs to improve with the fans leading the way.

What is your view on the quality of stewarding and security taking into account the last game you attended at the London Stadium?

Excellent 2%
Good 17%
Average 37%
Poor 44%

Personally, I believe stewarding has vastly improved over the last few weeks so surprised at such poor results. Are we are the level of the Boleyn Ground stewarding? No, and that will take some time, so I suppose the perception will improve over time too.

What is your view on the quality, choice and price of food and drink within the London Stadium?

Excellent 3%
Good 17%
Average 40%
Poor 40%

Again surprised about the 80% who said the catering average and poor. A vast improvement on the Boleyn Ground and similar to other Stadia such as Emirates and Embley whose catering is run by the same company but as they say perception is the reality so obviously room for improvement for the majority.

What is your experience of the London Stadium sight lines and views of the pitch from your seat?

Excellent 18%
Good 39%
Average 23%
Poor 20%

The key message for me here is that the majority like their view of the pitch and sightlines with 57% giving a good or excellent rating. One in five think their view is poor, but you can’t help but wonder whether the majority of these season ticket holders are stuck at the back of the upper tier in the cheap seats which cost £289 per season.

What is your experience of travelling to and from the London Stadium taking into account walking, public transport or car?

Excellent 13%
Good 31%
Average 26%
Poor 30%

We were told it was the most connected stadium in the country, that might be technically true, but it still takes around 30 minutes to walk from Stratford Tube Station to my turnstile. The majority of respondents (56%) believe transport is poor or average. I am not sure what the club can do about this, but a better route from the station to the stadium would be a big step in the right direction.

How do you rate your general match day experience at the London Stadium?

Excellent 5%
Good 34%
Average 38%
Poor 23%

So the all important match day experience is only average or poor for 61% of those surveyed. I think the results on the pitch have got as much to do with this sentiment as the stadium does and I do wonder what the result would have been to this question would have been if we won every game at home.

West Ham have been criticised by Taxpayers groups for not paying enough in the contribution to the transformation costs and running costs. Do you think West Ham should pay more?

Yes 20%
No 61%
Don’t know 19%

I surprised 20% said the club should pay more, but it certainly has turned out to be the deal of the century with predicted operating losses for the stadium owners predicted to top £8.4m next year. The club will come under more pressure to increase their contribution to reach the 66,000 capacity they so desperately want.

Do you think West Ham will become a regular top six club within the next five years as a result of the move to the London Stadium?

Yes 15%
No 64%
Not sure 21%

Just goes to show not many of us bought into the top six dream sold to us before the move. The problem is as we earn more ourselves the current top six move to higher levels and it ends up a cat and mouse game.

Do you think West Ham will kick on to the next level and become a top four team within ten years as a result of the move to the London Stadium?

Yes 12%
No 64%
Not sure 24%

I love the optimism of the 12% of supporters who think we could become a top-four team within ten years. I suppose it happened briefly to Leicester for one season only so we can all dream

Do you think the West Ham board are doing a good job?

Excellent 5%
Good 27%
Average 40%
Poor 28%

Another surprising result was the view that 68% thought the West Ham board was only doing an average or poor job. They will be disappointed with that view as many of them work tirelessly to improve things and I think they deserve more credit than they get.

How well does West Ham value you as a supporter and listen to fans concerns?

Excellent 3%
Good 21%
Average 39%
Poor 37%

Room for improvement here but things are starting to change with more customer support staff and forty match day SLO’s. It is very telling that 76% think the club don’t listen or value fans and possibly the biggest takeaway for them from this survey.

Where did you come to this survey from?

West Ham Till I Die 14%
Claret & Hugh 19%
KUMB 5%
WHUISA 4%
The West Ham Way 17%
HammersChat 6%
Other 35%


Match Report

Time to Fire Up the Coaches?

After the Leicester defeat Blind Hammer looks for answers for how West Ham could resurrect their season.

It has been a pretty miserable season for West Ham as we endured our 7th defeat at home against Leicester. We all know now that we have one of the worst defences in the league which concedes an alarming 2 goals a game but it was still a shock to be 2 -0 down after 6 minutes. The sad fact is that our defensive performance is providing a mountain for our offensive players to climb most games.

I was hampered in my insights by the club failing to provide a commentary headset. Luckily Radio London covered the game though I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time listening to reports from games against Rotherham etc. .

Despite this several things seemed obvious. The first is that the energy levels of Leicester were superior to West Ham for between two thirds to three quarters of the game. It was only in the last quarter of the game that Leicester started to look like the team which had played an emotionally and physically draining performance in mid-week. West Ham looked the team with the lower energy levels for the majority of the match despite their having the whole week to prepare. In the first half in particular Leicester outfought West Ham for possession and was more aggressive, though Drinkwater was treated particularly leniently by the referee.

This inevitably draws attention to the level and intensity of preparation our team is receiving before games. Many have noted that the squad has to perform on a larger pitch. One of the insights of the BBC Commentary was that we seemed to have few players who have the athleticism to cover the pitch properly. Antonio and Fernandez when he came on being honourable exceptions.

Last week heated media words were exchanged between Bilic and Japp Stam at Reading. Stam had explained that young prospect Oxford was not getting game time at Reading because he was not fit enough and that he had found the intensity of training at Oxford a shock compared to what he was used to at West Ham. Bilic flatly denied this was an issue but questions linger and to a certain extent his defence sounds hollow.

The problem for Bilic repudiation of Stam’s current claims is that he has actually already admitted it. Bilic himself claimed after the December humiliation of a 5-1 home defeat against Arsenal that the team lacked intensity, not just in performing on the pitch, but in training also. Apart from this admission there is other evidence. Zazar in his reflections on his calamitous West Ham loan specifically pointed out how the lack of intensity in training compared to what he was used to at Juventus made it difficult for him to adjust to the physical rigours of the Premiership. Valencia also has commented on how much fitter he has had to become in order to compete for a place in the Everton squad.

It may just be that in our efforts to repair what an inordinately high injury record with key players such as Carrol and Sacko, a more kid’s glove approach to training has reduced the overall fitness and effectiveness of the squad. The larger pitch would certainly expose any drop off in performance. There is no doubt that coaching nowadays is a science. Players need intense preparation for games, whilst avoiding being injured in this intense preparation. There is little evidence that the coaching setup is performing at the correct standard. The recent higher exposure of the squad to the coaching team in the Dubai trip seems to have set the squad back rather than advance it.

So who are the men behind the scenes responsible for managing this difficult balancing act? The personnel available to Bilic are Nikola Jurcevic who appears to be his right hand man. Edin Terzic is our First Team Coach whilst Miljenko Rak seems to have a key role as First Team Head of Performance. Julian Dicks has a role described as First Team Coaching Assistant and Chris Woods completed the team as Goal Keeping Coach.

Whilst Julian Dicks is the name most familiar to us it seems unlikely, given his job description as “Assistant” and as previous coaching experience in Women’s football or lower league football that he has a genuine leadership role in technical coaching at the club.

So apart from Bilic himself this leave the following coaches who in my view have some questions to answer. Nikola Jurcevic may or may not from his job description have a fundamental coaching role. From job descriptions alone Edin Terzic has the main responsibility as our First Team Coach whilst Miljenko Rak is required to take responsibility for fitness levels as First Team Head of Performance.

Whatever the qualities of these men in general are, they are not producing in the heat of competitive cauldron of the Premier League. In the light of evidence of poor defensive organisation, obvious to all, in the light of poor fitness intensity, obvious to most, a review of the coaching infrastructure seems strongly indicated. This is something which can be addressed now. We have to an extent been here before. When under Allardyce, we were having the opposite problem, struggling to score goals; we recruited in Teddy Sheringham to good effect. Fresh blood recruitment into the Coaching setup may well be advantageous now, especially doing the international break.

Only insiders at the club will know if any of these coaches are not up to it and need to go. Part of the judgement in my view would relate to how adaptable they would be to others suggesting solutions and accepting what is currently offered is not enough. They need to be open to correcting what appears to be the current technical coaching deficit. It may just be time to start driving and if necessary firing ups the Coaches behind the scenes.

COYI

David Griffith

Julian Dicks
Main region end


The HamburgHammer Column

West Ham Disorientated - back to square one

Another defeat that could have been almost predicted beforehand: Leicester hadn’t won away from home all season, so coming to London Stadium obviously gave them the perfect opportunity to end that dismal run. After all, this is what West Ham tend to do, especially this season: We help other clubs gaining some needed momentum.
As a club we are dealing with so many challenges this season that we have basically sacrificed anything remotely resembling home advantage and teams now fancy playing us, never a good sign.

I am deeply worried now to be brutally blunt. Maybe I shouldn’t be, after all we’ve been there before, topsy-turvy, bad seasons always following an outstanding one, players suffering untimely injuries time and time again, players being played out of position, West Ham shooting itself in the foot (or kneecap), West Ham rolling over to gift the opposition easy goals and so forth. Well, this is West Ham for you, many of us used to say in those situations, merely shrugging their shoulders while heading to the bar to order another round of bitter (pun very much intended).

The thing is: While we are still West Ham we obviously are no longer the same old West Ham we used to be. And it all boils down to the stadium move, big Premier League money, fancy talk from the board about the next level. Back in the day fans were rightfully expected to know West Ham’s natural place of making up the numbers without ever challenging for trophies (apart from the very odd cup run), back then we were expected to shrug shoulders and carry on.

The stadium move has changed all that. The owners have changed that. Like it or not, we are now in a 57k, 60k or even 66k stadium and you don’t have to be a fickle plastic fan to demand better on matchday: Better performances, better results, a better stadium experience. As much as I love Bilic I realise that he has to accept a percentage of the blame. I’ve alluded before to the mitigating circumstances of this quite extraordinary season, but he still needs to get more out of the players and this maybe requires him to be a bit more ruthless, to add a bit more bad cop attitude to his Mr.Nice Guy persona.

We keep seeing pics and video on the OS about the players having fun working out on the Rush Green pitches, enjoying their training sessions which isn’t a bad thing as such of course. But I do read about how it’s more like a petting zoo there sometimes, like a family picnic with the feelgood factor going through the roof.
Do the players have it too easy under Bilic ?

Is that why they make it so easy for the opposition during the actual games ?

Having just seen the Leicester game I couldn’t fail but notice the Foxes’ upturn in results after getting rid of Ranieri, the guy that got them a pie in the sky Premier League title.
Player power and all that, it’s not nice, but to quote Karren Brady: It is what it is. I really hope that our team haven’t decided that Bilic is no longer their manager of choice, because if that is the case, then Bilic’s days are numbered without a shadow of a doubt.

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I have the distinct feeling that this club is not on the same page on so many levels, dynamics and relationships between manager and players, players and manager, manager and board, fans and board, even the fans themselves are far from being united these days over many issues concerning our club.
Let’s face it: We had a glorious opportunity to build on our fantastic final season at the Boleyn – we had a very good squad, a youngish and enthusiastic manager on board and a new stadium with 50k season tickets sold.

We could and should have used our momentum and build on those foundations. But when have West Ham as a club ever built on a good season ? That’s another thing we simply don’t ever seem to be doing, regardless of where we play, who owns us or who manages us. I have no magic wand here. I don’t know if our fortunes might stop hiding if we replaced Bilic in the summer to bring in someone like Mancini.

I don’t know if we’ll be better off without worrying about Carroll’s fitness in future. What I do know is that our current owners have deliberately pushed to move us to this massive stadium. Make no mistake, that stadium shouts AMBITION and EUROPEAN FOOTBALL at you when you approach it and even when you’re inside it, despite the gaps, distances and shape.

However, do our board actually share that ambition ? Are they genuinely interested to move the club forward ? Or is it all about maximising their personal profit by selling up when the right offer lands at their doorstep, keeping the club in the league while spending the bare minimum ?
I ain’t holding my breath for the summer. For me we are indeed still very much the old West Ham in terms of making up the numbers only.

The only difference being that we are now making up the numbers with massively increased attendances in a stadium that no longer (or at least not at this point in time) gives us a home advantage when we play there. The lure of the London Stadium has been misjudged by the owners, various factors have contributed to give us a disappointing season, our club has no momentum and no unity, but what’s even worse: Our board don’t seem to have a long term strategy.

You can bring in a new manager every two years and replace half of your squad in the same period of time, it doesn’t exactly foster progress at your club if there is no coherent long-term strategy in place. As a club we never really had a sense of entitlement in our past. And I certainly don’t expect us to play European football anytime soon. But I expect us to act like a professional club playing Premier League football would. Is that too much too ask ?

Or am I just supposed to enjoy a club that continues to be run like a circus ? Let’s see how we conduct our transfer business in the summer.
Get your act together West Ham and get on the same page, please! COYI!

PS: Concordia’s game was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch.

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