Nigel Kahn’s Column
Just when you think you know what you’re going to write for your weekly column, something comes up unexpectedly and makes you rip that up and start again.
I had no plans to cover this again, so soon but after reading the Paul Walker article on KUMB on WHUISA & the OSB meetings taking place Saturday and then some of the inaccuracies being put out there as if they are the fact I feel I’m left with no choice.
I get nothing here for lying so what I’m putting down here is how things panned out from mine, & Sean’s point of view in regards our membership of the WHUISA committee last year.
Firstly, at the moment this is difficult to prove as the 2018 committee election results were never publicly published. I was told after the election that I had polled more votes than any other candidate, second was Sean & together our votes were more than the other members received combined.
Now to me, that is a huge mandate from WHUISA members and the direction it should take, as both Sean or I could not be classed as Lefties as WHUISA had been (unfairly in my view) tainted.
WHUISA committee generally communicates via Whatsapp groups or email and it didn’t take long for Sean & I to notice that things were happening that we didn’t seem to know about in advance. We believed, and rightly so, we were being excluded from decisions by a section of the committee who didn’t trust SW and by association, me, from being part of the decision making process. Some love to point out that WHUISA is the only democratically elected fan group out there, yet here we are being actively excluded, the two people who got more votes in that democratic election. Time & time again we found out what WHUISA was doing via the KUMB forum not via the official committee channels.
Allied to that, WHUISA was asked about joining the OSB as a group, a very short email exchange happened where the decision was taken by some on the committee to reject joining the clubs board.
Now I admit I thought WHUISA should have joined, after all, when you’re a fan representative group if don’t talk to those with the real power you’re just wasting your time. Yet I also believed that should have been a members decision, not the committees to make.
I get that committees are elected to run the show but some things are so important, especially this issue being the biggest WHUISA had to make, it should have gone to the members to decide.
The press statement that WHUISA then put out, stunned me for its rudeness. I’m no board lover, but, again, if you are a fan representative organization trying to make fans’ lives better, you have to hold your nose, & tongue at times, and step inside their tent. Standing outside waving a placard or a flag may give you satisfaction, but really, what does it achieve?
Add to that that the first time I read the statement was after it was released officially, it hadn’t been circulated in advance and only highlighted the fact some in the committee didn’t want any input from two of the elected committee members
Both Sean & I spoke about resigning as it was obvious what was going on. Sean resigned first & with WHUISA in a panic I was spoken to by a let us say, more sympathetic member of the committee who asked me not go, to stick with them and help make the changes for the better. I thought about it and agreed to not go, to see if Sean’s resignation would help. A small aside to this, half an hour after Sean resigned it was announced on the WHUISA twitter feed, and an article appeared on KUMB.
Over half of the elected committee from 2018 has resigned, Sean, Mark Sandell, George Mann, me & Sue Watson. Paul Turner who was co-opted onto the committee but not announced has since, I’m told, resigned as well. Only one resignation was announced the same day.
The truth about Mark Sandall leaving has never been explained. He just basically disappeared off the scene. He’s a busy man, but no explanation from him that I saw or anyone else. It wasn’t announced straight away. One rule for one it seems but not for the rest.
The Foodbank campaign was a mistaken – ot one I supported, as it is for individual fans to make that contribution, not an official group. It played into the hands of those that saw WHUISA as a playground of the left wing. It did go to members to vote, but only at a public meeting attended by around 25 fans. Considering WHUISA membership is worldwide, and it has invested in survey technology to ask fans easily questions to be debated, to allow just a vote of less than 1% make policy was wrong. At the meeting I spoke out against the foodbank campaign as best I could but the vote was carried.
The final straw for me was walking into a game just before kick off the chairman, who was not at this game, wanted to discuss something with the group before going public with it. I can’t remember what it was but, it was rare for him not to be at the game, by the end of the game on WHUISA’s twitter feed a statement was put out. Done & dusted by the chairman during the game, while the rest of us were watching the game. How can you make policy during a game and then announce it without allowing the committee to comment?
Enough was enough. I walked out then and there.
All of the above embarrasses WHUISA,. It also does me no credit, to be honest, and frankly, it is shameful in that fans trusted people to do the right thing but sadly like the ownership the fan group has failed the fans.
WHUISA though can be changed, as with elections if the right people can be found then with a new broom it can all be swept away and cleaned up.
I believe wholeheartedly in the concept of WHUISA and why it was set up, just somewhere along the way it floundered & frankly, played into the hands of those that unfairly tainted it.
My hope for the future is that WHUISA can with a new committee remember that’s its there to represent fans in trying to make their matchday better, yes to call the club to book when it is wrong but to do it in a way that means they work with you to change not against you.
Hammers United should also be a port of call, sit down with them to find common ground as when the fanbase is UNITED then and only then can proper meaningful change happen.