Nigel Kahn’s Column
Saturday, at last, sees the result of a long campaign by the club to improve the stadium, to make it look & feel more like the home the fans deserved when the move was first planned way back in 2010.
Karren Brady, at last, will be able to write in her Sun column the wonderful thing she has finally achieved and has delivered on her promise – a home fit for heroes.
I can feel the excitement bubbling away in you all, and how will we all feel when we finally lay our eyes on that most wondrous of changes, the Claret Carpet.
‘F*****G underwhelmed’ will be my response. Should we really be that bothered about it? Does it really improve anything? Not for me it doesn’t.
It is just a different carpet. But how did we get to this point and why should actually we be questioning Brady of Kensington on the mess in the first place. So sit back and let us all take a trip back into mists of time and the sorry saga of the London stadium carpet.
2013 SAB meeting, Boleyn ground
The club makes a presentation to the SAB of their new Olympic stadium bid plans, with images of the ground showing the (non) retractable seating pushed forward with the football pitch outlined. In between the seating and the pitch was to be a green cover over the track which would serve two purposes.
1. To hide the fact the seating didn’t cover the tracking but just moved up to it
2. It was to be green so to convince the eye that the distance between seats and pitch wasn’t as bad as the moaners were saying, so it would look seamless.
OK, they probably weren’t the two examples the club would have used but let’s face it, they are both correct, but it is not like the club were ever going to admit the above was true.
Now the club from day one wanted green carpet and that’s what they got, & remember that was planned way before any company was chosen to manage the stadium or pick up the bill. The club wanted green carpet & as Karren was in charge of the move KAREN BRADY WANTED GREEN CARPET. [No need to shout, Nigel – ed]
So let’s jump forward to 2017, and after a not so great start to season two in the new place Slaven Bilic came out after the Brighton defeat and said…
It is impossible to bring the crowd closer but we can improve things by changing the perspective. Imagine you are a player, you are running back to defend or you are joining the attack – you look up and it is not easy, because everything is green ahead of you, to appreciate exactly where is the end of the pitch and that can psychologically affect your willingness to do it.
Now why I find that strange is because if you’re a professional player it’s surely up to you to know where the pitch starts and stops, or basically, where the white lines are.
The linesman will not be running up and down on a different floor, they will be running up the side of the touchline, not on the pitch but off it, so how does changing the surrounding help when you will still have about 6ft of grass for the linesmen to run around on?
Not only that but as both sides have to use the same pitch, why is it being used as an excuse by the manager of the team that plays every other game on it & not the visitor who gets too confused? By it just once.
Billic also added though…
We have done everything we can to receive permission to do this, especially our vice-chairman Karren Brady.
He then praises the work Brady has been doing in trying to get this changed. OH, you mean the same Karen Brady WHO WANTED GREEN CARPET, in 2013. As excuses for losing a football pitch go, that is pitiful, but then in his praise of Brady does that allude to something else.
The club was under pressure not only because of the poor start but many fans were not happy with the stadium and were being vocal about it.
CONSPIRACY THEORY WARNING ALERT
Bear with me here but I have a what if… what if Karren Brady had asked Billic to say that to so she could use it to put leverage on LS185, stadium controllers, in her bid to try to appease the fans and West Hammify the stadium a bit more? I know that sounds far fetched and perhaps my utter distrust of the woman means if she claimed West Ham wore claret & blue, I’d want to double check that fact.
Poor old Slav, he didn’t last much longer, sacked after losing to Liverpool 4-1 though how losing to Liverpool 4-1 is deemed worse than losing to Brighton at home 3-0 I’m not sure, but anyway that’s not part of this story.
The stadium owners at first disagreed, as they were in dispute with West Ham over many things. Then the owners agreed but only if the carpet was dark blue to match London Stadium’s own brand colour. Surely for the sake of the players’ eyesight and the fact the green carpet was detrimental to their playing ability KB would agree.
Oh no, she said, cant have dark blue, that’s Tottenham’s colour. Now while she may be right on that, surely if it saved the club paying, as blue would have done, & if it benefitted the team’s performance as the green carpet was so detrimental they claimed, & it could have been claimed it was the Thames Ironworks 1st colour, (missed a marketing trick there KB) then they would have agreed. But no, she didn’t agree.
Perhaps if we had had Blue carpet then we might not have lost those goals to Burnley that caused the fans to demonstrate and show the owners what they really thought of them.
Mmmm, thank god she didn’t go for the blue then.
We can now jump forward to this year, & West Ham successfully win their case against the stadium owners in that the stadium wasn’t exactly what they wanted (or something like that) and as crowning glory the LLDC, who have kicked out LS185 and taken over the stadium, have agreed to allow Karren her Claret Carpet, and was she happy. She said…
This is wonderful and long-awaited news for the football club and our supporters. In the aftermath of the expert determination, myself and the Board worked extremely hard to progress this because we knew how important it was to our fans. London Stadium is globally recognised as the home of West Ham United, and therefore it is only right that our traditional club colours are in prominent and key areas of the playing arena.
So now a carpet that KAREN BRADY WANTED GREEN in 2013 will be claret and she has the cheek to extoll how hard she had worked. Surely if the green carpet had been a contributing factor to the players not performing well enough at home in securing us the victories we should have got, then she shouldn’t be back slapped, but sacked. After all, she signed off on the deal and was paid a bonus of £1 million for doing that & part of that deal was the green carpet. But then I’m drawn to my conspiracy theory because if that was a clever ruse used by KB to put leverage on the owners to get her the claret carpet, she could then use that as an example of the board working hard to making progress on the West Hamification of the stadium.
It’s no JFK moment that’s for sure, but it certainly made me think.
There is a rule of thumb I use with West Ham and the off-field board shenanigans we see: THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS STRANGER THAN THE FICTION.