Talking Point

The Sound of Advantage - It's About 1/r²

Guest Post by Tony Edwards

As a musician, and having worked around recording studios and concert venues large and small since I was little more than a kid, you learn very quickly that in some environments you’re going to have a good night, and in others you’re going to face an uphill struggle.

Playing gigs in village halls was always likely to be tough – hard surfaces with the sound confused by multiple reflections, crowd hugging the walls. Low ceilinged clubs with soft furnishing and people right up to the stage were a sound man’s dream. But too, this is a rock musician’s best environment – because the sound of an audience itself has a massive psychological impact on how we as musicians perform.

What has this got to do with football you’re starting to ask? It’s the phenomenon of 1/r². Sound Pressure levels are inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. Sound pressure, compressions in the air, is how the human ear receives audio information.

In 2011, an experiment was carried out by the Press Association Sport into how loud football stadiums actually were. Seated in the stand they were given a device to measure the average Decibel level in the first 60 seconds after kickoff. West Ham scored a very respectable 81dB, 7th highest in the Premier League.

Let’s assume that the front seats at Upton Park were an average of 3m from the pitch. The pitch was 64 metres wide, which makes the shortest distance to the centre probably about 35 metres. At the London Stadium, that distance probably increases by about 15 metres, as the pitch is 4m wider and the closest seat to the centre circle (block 138) is about 10 metres further away than the closest West Stand seat at the Boleyn. But the gentle rake of the seating takes most people much further away than that – sight lines are good, but distances are way longer.

Suddenly we see how 1/r² reduces the sound pressure level (SPL) on the pitch, that SPL falls off very quickly as the distance increases – the graph of this looks like a ski slope. Doubling distance reduces Sound Pressure by 75%. But that cannot be the whole story – because accounting for increased numbers, the stadium shouldn’t exactly be quiet.

Frequency plays a part too. Low frequencies have long wavelengths and travel well, higher frequencies do not. Perception of ‘loudness’ is linked to ‘presence’ in the sound – a phenomena based in the higher frequency range. As those higher frequencies suffer more amplitude loss to the environment over distance than do low frequencies, the sound loses a perception of intensity as well as measured volume. Higher frequencies do reflect better, and at the Boleyn the roof helped to reflect them down towards the pitch. But the new stadium roof is higher, so the distances for reflected sound to travel are further and 1/r² comes into play yet again.

The psychology of this is based on expectations. As the home team, you’re expecting the roar of the crowd at your back. 50,000 people v 2,000, that’s your home advantage. When it seems subdued ( including the effect of ‘presence’ decay) it’s like something vital has been lost. Conversely, the away team expects that hostile environment, but when it isn’t there this acts as mental boost. Sound has been used as a psychological weapon in siege situations, to batter the enemy into submission. For musicians however, the noise of the crowd raises the adrenaline, heightens awareness and boosts energy levels, because that’s what our minds tell us we need, it’s how our psychology works. We are the ‘home team’ in this situation.

Even in the seats, does the LS sound as loud as the Boleyn? I don’t think so . You can see everyone is singing ‘Bubbles’, but the sound seems to disappear into the openness of the bowl as the early reflections don’t return because of the shape and size of the place. That in turn affects us too, further reducing our effectiveness due to a feeling that the ‘atmosphere’ is dampened. I’m told it’s a great venue for Rock Concerts, the sound is clear right around the stadium. That would make perfect sense because you don’t want sound reflection at a gig. That’s a nightmare for music, tuning it into garbled mush. However, because the crowd is also on the pitch, the musicians feel no detriment either – distance to the audience is reduced.

So the physics of sound and the psychology of expectations linked together show one way in which home advantage at the London Stadium is potentially lost. While this is no excuse for poor performances, it might go some way to explaining the slow starts to games, and why the London Stadium’s hugely increased capacity hasn’t generated a ‘fortress’ environment.

It’s all about proportionality – it’s about 1/r²


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 Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Leicester City

West Ham v Leicester City
FA Premier League
Olympic Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: BBC Radio London

Leicester City Starting XI

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

*PS If you haven’t completed the London Stadium Survey there is still time before it closes at midnight thsis Sunday.

Over 6,185 match going West Ham supporters have completed the survey already. Have you?

It can be completed HERE

Click here to view the leaderboard

Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: West Ham v Leicester City

Subs: Adrian, Collins, Edimilson, Masuaku, Calleri, Snodgrass, Feghouli

It seems a long time since we got three points. Leicester City will be on a high following their European triumph, but they might also be a bit knackered. I’m not sure we can rely on that, though!

Mark Noble misses out, ostensibly through injury, but I suspect if we get a good win it is going to be difficult for him to get back into the team. Surely this means a centre midfield duo of Obiang and Kouyate with Sam Byram getting a rare start at right back. I suppose it’s possible that Edimilson might come into a midfield three, but I’d have thought that Ayew has played himself right into contention having scored a couple of goals in recent games from the bench.

I’d have thought that it is Snodgrass and Feghouli who will be on the bench. Feghouli will consider himself unlucky, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made.

I’m really looking forward to this one.

#COYI

You have until 1.55pm to enter the Predictor League.

PS If you haven’t completed the London Stadium Survey there is still time before it closes at midnight thsis Sunday.

Over 6,185 match going West Ham supporters have completed the survey already. Have you?

It can be completed HERE

Click here to view the leaderboard

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