Note from Iain: Jonny Madderson is the man behind the video with a message for the Board, which we had on the site just before Christmas. This is hopefully the first of many pieces he will be writing for WHTID. Please give him a warm welcome.
The festive season is a time for coming together and the Board’s New Year’s Resolution is a step in the right direction. Although we are more than a ‘small number’ of unhappy fans, we should welcome your words. Now it’s time for action. KUMB have addressed specific ideas to make the stadium better. Here are 10 things you can do to bring the club and the fans together and make sure 2017 is a positive, upbeat, united year for the club.
1. Put the football first
Building a successful football team renowned for an exciting style of play is a priority for 2017. In the previous transfer window you failed to sign any of your major targets. January is a chance to put this right.
2. Listen to the fans
West Ham’s most powerful asset is the fan base – but currently we aren’t being heard. Social media is alive with positive ideas from fans trying to make things better (read the KUMB 10 pointer or any one of PC Hammer’s posts). An independent supporters group – separate from the SAB – that meets twice a season with the board, would formalise a meaningful dialogue to create change.
3. Show some heart
Making Tony Carr redundant. Cutting off the family businesses entwined with Upton Park. It all seems so remote and ruthless. To be a community club, you need to care for the people around you in word and in deed.
4. Be honest
When you said that the migration was “the most successful in history” and that “other clubs are jealous” it alienated us because we knew it wasn’t true – not yet anyway. If you spin everything we’ll never believe you, but if you are straight with us you’ll find we are far more supportive.
5. Improve West Ham’s public image
Let’s be done with your outspoken presence across Twitter, Talksport, The Sun columns etc etc.. It’s not professional and it isn’t likeable. It makes West Ham seem like the small lairy bloke in the pub trying to have a pop. Your energy would be better applied working hard behind the scenes while charismatic football people like Slaven Bilic and Mark Noble fly the flag for us in public.
6. Stay true to our roots
The club’s recent ‘History begins’ message was a turn off. Perhaps you think we are deluded in our reverence of the past. But all that folklore and legend gives us our identity and needs to be cherished.
Let’s not whitewash the years of hurt away either. Failure is part of West Ham’s identity – just as it is for Man City, or Andy Murray. And like them, let’s use failure as a strength. It means we have something to prove. Let’s not talk ourselves up and pretend we’re the no.1 London club. We are underdogs on a mission. That’s a powerful narrative for players and fans to get behind, and it’ll make the triumphs all the sweeter when we get there.
7. Rethink London United
Heritage and authenticity must be important pillars of your drive to develop the West Ham brand. That’s why the whole London thing has fallen completely flat with those who matter most – your fanbase. We don’t identify with it. It’s generic at the very moment we should be celebrating what makes us different. We are an East London club – let’s be proud of it.
8. Deliver on your “affordable football” promise
Your commitment to this is admirable and you can still do more. £4.50 for a pie. £40 to become an Academy Member before you buy a single ticket. That’s expensive. You negotiated an amazingly cheap rent, doing more to share around the upside would go a long way.
9. Take inspiration from outside football
The Olympic Stadium will never have the raw character of Upton Park, but we can create a different kind of atmosphere; one that feels uniquely and proudly West Ham. London 2012 and Rugby World Cup 2015 were both brilliantly and imaginatively organised events with uplifting atmospheres. Being there felt like a carnival. Some of this was fan led, but much of it was fostered by the environment and initiatives that the organisers created. West Ham shouldn’t feel like going to a rugby match – but there is much to be learned from the ideas behind the success of those events.
10. Print out this John Lyall quote and stick it up on your office wall
“West Ham, I discovered, was my sort of club. It belongs to its own patch in East London, a local club in the best sense, with a crowd that is second to none. The West Ham fans identify with the players and there is a genuine relationship between them; they all belong to the same family.” – John Lyall
That is a spirit that runs through the best of West Ham and connects with every fan, whether you’re from Newham, Romford Miami or Shanghai. If you put that ethos at the heart of developing a 21st century football club then the future of West Ham United could be very exciting.