Poll

The London Stadium Survey

West Ham co chairman David Gold said last Wednesday…

“I think the majority of fans are happy with the Stadium given the alternatives and if all goes to plan it will be the biggest in London. dg”

On the back on Mr Gold’s statement, Claret and Hugh ran a poll to ask West Ham supporters the very simple question. Are you happy with the London Stadium? With 1,500 voting to make it statistically significant. 56% agreed with the chairman to confirm they were happy with the London Stadium leaving 44% to register their unhappiness.

This prompted Iain and myself to discuss a wide ranging questionnaire on the London Stadium from a supporter’s perspective after 221 days or 31 weeks after we officially played our first game at the former Olympic Stadium last summer.

This is not designed to an anti-board or even a pro-stadium survey, there is no hidden agenda. It is merely a survey to highlight West Ham fans perception of the new stadium and what areas might still need improvement. The full results will be shared with the West Ham board for their consideration.

Please only fill out the survey if you have visited the London Stadium in person to sample one or more of the 19 competitive games and/or the one friendly which have been played at our new home since the 4th August last year. Please base your answers on your most recent visit to the stadium to recognise areas which may have been a problem at the beginning but have since improved.

The aims of this questionnaire is also supported by the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA) and they have kindly agreed to send it out to their six hundred plus paid up members. You can find out more about WHUISA and how to join here"

We would like to encourage as many season ticket holders, claret members and general admission ticket supporters to answer this questionnaire as possible so please spread the word far and wide on forums and social media. This is designed to be an independent survey of supporters and not affiliated one particular West Ham site, blog or social media channel.

Take the survey HERE

Sean & Iain


Financial

West Ham's financial situation revealed

Three and a half years ago I wrote my first article for WHTID on West Ham finances for Iain. Today I am back to give an update on the finances after the company accounts were released at the end of Feb.

Hammers leapfrog Everton

West Ham’s newly announced financial accounts show increases in all areas as the club continues on a big upward curve over taking both Everton and Newcastle in terms of financial might with the seventh highest turnover in the Premier League. Last year West Ham sat in ninth position in the Premier League’s turn-over table on £121m behind Newcastle (7th £129m) and Everton (8th £126m).

Last year Everton earned £82.5m from TV money, £17.6m from ticket sales, £9.3m from retail and £12m from commercial activities which saw a £4m decrease in turn-over to £121.5m. Newcastle were relegated to devastating financial consequences.

Record breaking figures

The Hammers turnover increased 17.7% to £142.1m and within that figure ticket sales for the last season at the Boleyn Ground rose to an impressive £26.9m

TV rights income grew to £86.7m and Commercial and sponsorship revenue was up by 31% to £19m while Retail and merchandising sales grew by 29% to £9.3m.

The club managed to record an operating profit of £31.5m excluding player trading but this was reduced to a more modest profit of £1.2m before taxation. The club recorded a £4.8m loss on the books when other factors where included after spending £53.3m on bringing in new players which saw us take on a total wage bill £84.7m and invest £4m in Rush Green training ground. A further £45.7m was spent on players during the 2016/2017 season.

The external bank loans were completely paid off in July 2016 following the sale of the Boleyn Ground with the accounts claiming an £8m profit in the sale.

The Boleyn Ground and land was sold to developers for £38m with £15m going to pay off bank debts that were mortgaged against it and a further £15m going to stadium owners LLDC to contribute to the £323m transition costs of the former Olympic Stadium.

Playing Catch-up

While it is great that the Hammers have jumped up to 7th spot they remain a long way behind the top six in terms of financial might. Manchester United leads the pack with £515.3m followed by Manchester City on £392m, Arsenal are third on £350m and Chelsea fourth on £329m.

Liverpool and Spurs have yet to announce their figures but Liverpool recorded figures of £298m in 2015 while Spurs had a £196m turnover in 2015 so we are unlikely to catch them up any time soon.

Brady pay rise

West Ham owners rewarded West Ham Vice Chairman, Karren Brady with a 40% pay increase although she remains a long way behind the club’s top earners.The highest paid West Ham director employed by parent group WH Holding was paid £907,000 up from £646,000 in 2015. Her £261,000 increase came in the last season at the Boleyn Ground as the Hammers prepared to move the London Stadium.

In 2011 after the Sullivan and Gold takeover, the highest West Ham paid director earned £256,000 but that was increased to £427,000 in 2012.

In 2013 Karren Brady earned £1.63m which included a £1m bonus for winning the London Stadium tenancy deal although the bonus payments are thought to have been staggered over five years. In 2014 her salary returned to £636,000 with a modest £10,000 rise in 2015 to £646,000.

Her £907,000 yearly pay packet pales into insignificance given those earned by her London Premier League rivals. Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy and Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis for example both paid themselves £2.6m per year in 2016. And with the average Premier League footballer earnings £44,000 per week (or £2.2m per year and average squad players earn well over £1m).

Debt situation eases

Icelandic shareholders CH Holdings and David Sullivan acted as joint bankers in 2013 loaning over £32m to the club between them. The remaining £14.76m repayment was paid back in full in July to both shareholders with interest who stepped in and acted as banks after high street banks previously turned the club down.

The club also paid off the first repayment of shareholder loans including seven per cent interest last August worth £4.2m to the owners Sullivan.

The accounts say the first repayment to Gold and Sullivan relate to shareholder loans dating back to 2011. The shareholders have loaned £49.2m in total between them which has been bumped up to £61.5m with a further £12.3m of accrued interest. Although it appears the remaining £57.3m of shareholders loan was due to be paid back on 1st January 2017, a post financial year note on 3rd October last year says the pay back of the remainder of the share holders loans will now be deferred until 1st January 2020.

Despite being bank debt free the club continued to loan money from pay day lenders tied to their TV money income. The Hammers repaid £30m of loans from JG Funding in May last year but took out a new credit facility with lenders Media and Rights Funding worth another £30m which is payable by July this year through direct payments by the Premier League to the lenders.

The Premier League are looking to outlaw offshore lenders and while Media and Rights Funding is registered with the FCA it’s funding comes from the British Virgin Islands so it remains to be seen how how these arrangements can carry on for.

Onwards and upwards

The figures are moving in the right direction. Next year’s figures which are unlikely to released until next February are likely to smash the £200m barrier! In those accounts will be the £38m income for the sale of the Boleyn ground, the first year of the new bumper TV deal worth £128m for finishing in seventh spot, ticket sales at the London Stadium is expected to rise by £13m to around £40m. You would expect commercial and sponsorship to rise by another 30% to around £25m and retail to double to £19m in an enlarged and expanded mega store. Not forgetting the £25m we received for the French man.

Incredibly our turnover for the year ending 31st May 2017 could come in at a staggering £275 million. In 2012 our turnover was just £46m following relegation.

Always happy to answer financial related questions to the best of my ability in the comments section below.

Sean


Guest Post

Further Update from WHUISA

Guest Post by Paul Christmas (Joint Chairman of WHUISA)

WHUISA

ACCESSIBILITY

WHUISA agreed there needs to be a disability association and we are willing to help by having one as part of WHUISA. I have contacted one of the disability reps at the meeting and await a response. Two disabled members of WHUISA have contacted me and we are looking to set something up.

A number of issues came up from the disabled reps with a request for West Ham to have their own congregating place specifically set up for people with disabilities. A room that would be dry, warm and adapted for the variety of disabilities people have. Man U have such a place and is excellent. However where could / would West Ham house such a place?

Disabled changing rooms are available but people I have spoken to since were not aware of their existence.

BUSINESSES IN WEST HAMLEGACY

The club have no official responsibility in helping such businesses. By the time the residential complex is built on the old ground many businesses in the area will have folded. Delaware North (DN) is the company responsible for authorising the food / drink outlets around the Stadium. It seems the club have recognised that they can help in some way by suggesting they will help to explain the process (an internet pack was mentioned) and give direct contact to DN.

Any business that was at Upton Park that wants to have a presence at the new place should contact Tara Warren (TW) at the club and request details / help. WHUISA are happy to help in any way they can.

HAMMERS SUPPORTERS CLUB (HSC)

As part of a joint committee of HSC members and committee members of HSC discussions have occurred between us and Newham Council while a place has been sourced for the HSC to move to as a satellite. The HSC is fully aware of this but the executive committee has not responded. Further the chair person has had meetings with Tara Warren unbeknown to other members of the HSC committee and the joint committee. This explained Karren Brady’s (KB) comment in the minutes.

The club is the only entity that can save the HSC. The HSC will close soon and will not make the end of the season. I made this point specifically.

A meeting between West Ham, the HSC and Newham Council is scheduled for 8/2 and I wish the HSC all the very best.

TOILETS

The point was made that the toilets (pods) which had been built since those for the Olympics were outside had not been designed very well. For male toilets the one way in and the same way out system made for tedious queues in the BML before, at half time and after the match. Further there are huge numbers of people coming from all parts of the ground to use toilets and massive bottlenecks develop. This is fine for an event like the Olympics when people can go when they want but at a football match there is a massive demand at half and full time. There are also a large number of female toilets. Whilst this is commendable the majority of people in the BML are male and a request was made to see if changes could be made to toilet design as well as possible increase in male toilets. For men there are only a small number of actual ‘sit down’ toilets in the ‘pods’ and this needs looking at too.

SECURITY

Security at the stadium is a big concern to our members. LS185 re-iterated their policy but in the light of current security / terrorist threats I was not convinced and they need to up their game.

Too many young people in important areas of the ground with little experience of big crowds.

The feedback promised by Peter Smith will be crucial. However I would not expect to wait until May 24th for this information to be disseminated.

Many people had problems getting from one place to another in the ground so while KB’s offer to assist a SAB member to get to where they want was kind Adrian Bradshaw did wonder whether this assistance would be offered to the other 50 odd thousand people in the ground. The answer was that it could not for obvious reasons. However why should someone in the SAB be afforded a privilege not available to others?

TURNSTILE CONGESTION

The club have acted immediately on my request to highlight getting to the match early or you will miss the KO. Such a message was the first thing read on the Man City preview e-mail. This should be on all further preview e-mails.

I further requested separate queues be considered to speed up the process. I proposed a queue for those with bags, one for people with no bags and one for families. This was included in the action plan.

ROUTE TO / FROM STADIUM / WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE

The route changes as there are ongoing building works which will not be finished for a number of years. This is something we have to suffer. Kevin Radley (KR) has looked in to the different number of routes being used out of the stadium and he has identified 5. He said people were fed up with having the routes changed. He provided a route plan to WHUISA and offered to help the club in this issue.

Further Westfield have a capacity in the shopping centre of 35,000 at any one time. They are keep an eye on this but with up to 57,000 coming into the area not shopping related but passing through they are mindful to keep us away as an increase in this capacity may see shoppers not allowed in due to safety reasons.

This situation is compounded if there ever was an evacuation of Westfield. The fire drills see the crowds from Westfield come out towards the stadium so fans are being diverted away in case this happens.
This begs a number questions. Further will West Ham ever play on a Boxing Day at home while the sales are on ? We have not played a home Boxing Day fixture since Arsenal in 2013. We are due one…..

Westfield are in control of their premises and while West Ham can request they open blocked routes such as those by The Cow Westfield are not obliged to accede. Westfield will may respond to a number of lobby / pressure groups but it seems sheer weight of numbers will see us stuck with the current mess of an egress we have as fans. It is tedious.

TRANSPORT LINKS

The actual links are good – it is the number of people using these links which is causing issues. SAB members complained of being herded to stations like cattle, delayed, packed like sardines on trains, noted continual disruption on Greater Anglia services and poor crowd control at Stratford International (SI).
Such things are actually out of the clubs control due however we were promised world class travel links and the ongoing situation, which does not affect all fans, has upset a significant number it does affect.

The anomaly as to who is responsible outside this station came up as people are stopped from getting to trains at this station to allow people at Stratford station to get on. This causes queues outside SI as there is limited pavement space so people are spilling onto the road. There are no barriers here and the roads are controlled by Newham council. What misfortune will it take for someone to do something ?
Direct links between fans and the 3rd parties / travel companies should be set up. WHUISA have offered to be a conduit.

It seems the travel situation is not world class… yet.

WEST HAM ‘LOOK AND FEEL’

KB confirmed the club will have to deliver a clean stadium for this summer’s World Athletics Championships. This means ALL West Ham signage in, on and around the stadium will be removed at the end of this season. Such changes confirm that we are just tenants in a building that will never be our home as the Boleyn Ground was. The club are hopeful that the West Ham sign on top of the roof will stay.

STEWARDING

Stewarding produced the highest level of responses from our members. A number of individual concerns were highlighted by SAB members and I made as many points as I could. I highlighted the distrust of fans and 3rd party stewards.

The stadium is a massive operational headache for LS185 who are still learning about how to deal with a 57,000 football crowd. They felt they were doing a good job at game by game 17 but I disagreed and wondered how long it would take for a nasty incident to occur before they were good enough.

While the layout and vastness of the stadium makes the job hard maybe the ground needs to be split into traditional separate stands to make the job easier. I made this point to LS185 at the Chelsea debrief meeting last year.

Details provided by the club on bringing back former Boleyn stewards had been raised at the bloggers / website meeting and so was not discussed at this meeting – something the SAB should be talking about.

Hard ticket checks are only employed at Blocks 112/113/114 .

These are used inside the ground as the stadium is open internally. Anyone from any area can go to any part of the ground. This causes frustration as people are not able to get used to the crowd around them as it constantly changes. This will be the way it is unless internal barriers are introduced to create specific stand areas that we were used to at the Boleyn.

Interaction procedures were due to be initiated for the Man City match but video received by WHUISA which is being made available to the club suggests some have not read the procedures yet.

While the club re-iterated their stance on people informing the club it seems there is not enough feedback from the club / Stadium operators as to what they have actually done. This should be improved.

BLOCK 114

A number of unsavoury incidents from this area such as coin throwing led to the Safety Liaison Authority (SLA) closing this block and people were moved to block 127. This caused a multitude of issues for many innocent fans however the club said that 97 fans from this block have been banned. A return to block 114 must be authorised by the SLA. Hard ticket checks are in force in this area to stop rouge fans infiltrating the area from other parts of the stadium and coin throwing seems to have stopped.

The club want fans to return to their original seats and a significant number of fans in block 127 still wish to be relocated to block 114. Sadly this is too late for one of our fans and WHUISA founding members – Alan Walker who sadly passed away at the end of January. He was deeply upset at being moved away from the area and a number of his friends and spoke of his wish to watch his beloved West Ham from where he worked so hard to be during the migration process. Our hope and lasting legacy to Alan must be that fans are moved back to this area as soon as possible, they are allowed to enjoy the match in the way they have done for years (singing / shouting / chanting / banter / dancing) and the club ensures coin throwers are persona non grata.

PERSISTENT STANDING

It was revealed that the move to a new stadium saw a decision made where there would be a drive to ensure people sat down at the match. I noted that this drive was unique to West Ham fans and unfair and reminded everyone to watch Match of the Day where you would clearly see fans standing at all Premier League grounds. This drive to make people sit in some areas of the lower tiers was counter productive.

This showed the problem in the migration process where the system failed and families / other people used to sitting at the BG became mixed with fans who had never sat down at all at the BG. This caused in fighting between West Ham fans.

It is noted the club, to their credit, have recognised this problem and have moved 450 people.

I did not receive a direct answer from Nicola Keye (NK) about whether the club would open an area specifically for families despite asking 3 times. In the small print and in the first instance a season ticket holder has the right to renew their seat. Only once this has occurred can a decision be made about relocation issues. In other words the club cannot force people to move from their seat to create a family area.

On reflection post meeting a solution to this is could be to stipulate an area that is to be a family area – say 4 /5 blocks of the Bobby Moore Upper and then those in this area currently should get the first opportunity to move to another area should they not wish to be in the family area. Over a short period of time the club could have an official area for families.

SUPPORTERS SERVICES

The club acknowledged issues / backlog in dealing with customer complaints and say they have improved this. However the stigma still remains that the club gets information from fans and fails to respond in a large number of cases. I know as I am still waiting for a response to a letter I sent to the chairmen of all people. WHUISA are happy to act as a conduit for fans should they wish to choose them.

KB left for another meeting at 8pm but the SAB continued to meet for about another 40 minutes. The bloggers / website meeting was discussed and this has been addressed in my earlier post.

Paul Christmas

Joint Chair of WHUISA


Guest Post

An update from WHUISA

Guest Post by Paul Christmas (Joint Chairman of WHUISA)

WHUISA

I attended the West Ham Supporter Advisory Board meeting on 24th January at the London Stadium and the attendees were as listed on the minutes at https://www.whufc.com/sites/default/files/inline-files/SAB%20meeting%20minutes%20270117.pdf

Over two hundred people from our six hundred strong membership took the time to send their points of view. The documents filled two A4 files and I took every response into the meeting.

On behalf of the members I made a number of your points during the meeting with examples to hand on each topic which are listed in the minutes. I was able to speak on to your behalf but had a huge amount of information.

Twice I was asked to hand over all documents from the membership which I did not do. I was not going to provide the club with your personal data. Further the consensus of opinion amongst our members was that many people had previously written to the club and had not received a response at all. I include myself in this as I sent a registered post letter to the chairmen in late December which has not been acknowledged. On this basis what is there to say there would be no response to our evidence? I was not prepared to pass everything to the club without a check and balance being made on your behalf.

This is supported by the club admitting they had problems handling correspondence from fans from the start of the season and had now changed their system. However this should not have happened in the first place and the club should have been ready from day 1 in the new stadium to cope with queries. That damage has now been done and is one of the reasons why WHUISA was formed in order to take fan’s complaints direct to the club and get answers relayed back to them without them being lost or left unanswered. West Ham is one of the few major clubs in the country that did not have an official supporters association or Trust. We now have one.

WHUISA are pro-fan and not anti-board. We want to help the club with the issues raised but with the large volume of paperwork and the ‘devil being in the detail’ I was not able to get all points across in the meeting. To this end I have requested a meeting with the club to present our evidence in a formal manner which can be fed back to you byWHUISA and the club working together in an agreed and appropriate way. I await their response.

This was my first SAB meeting and I was left wondering for the future of the SAB. It is well known that a week earlier there was a meeting between the club and West Ham oriented websites / bloggers and internet TV. If, as we were told the SAB ‘is the forum for going forward’ why is there ongoing direct contact between the club and this group? Surely they should be part of the SAB? By being separate and having first chance to meet the club surely this undermines the credibility of the SAB and what it is meant to stand for.

Further a meeting between the club and this group has been earmarked for April a full month before the SAB are due to meet again at the end of May. I questioned this and requested that the SAB meet monthly to get a firm grip on the issues but this was not forthcoming. It was stated at the meeting the intention would be to merge the 2 groups but with separate meetings already planned it seems this will not happen until next season which seems too late.

Further due to firmly established nature of the association WHUISA politely requested but were not afforded a 2nd representative at this SAB meeting. Taking an active part in the meeting and taking notes is not easy for 1 person at all. This will be why there is a delay in getting this to you as I work full time and have other responsibilities. However as can be seen from the minutes Bondholders had three representatives while Club London, East Upper, East Lower and Bobby Moore Upper each had 2. Disability supporters were rightly represented by two people due to the differing nature of disability. It is understood some groups attending the website meeting in the previous week also had wto or more representatives.

The SAB is the club’s primary form of direct correspondence with its fans but I was unsure on behalf of whom a number of SAB members spoke. The group has come from previous meetings and being hand-picked. During the meeting the gentleman representing the BML made a point about the outer coverings around the pitch which was very commendable. However as a season ticket holder in the BML I, and indeed anyone in the group of 40 who I go to the matches with, did not know in advance he was representing the BML. There had not been any chance prior to the meeting for us to meet / put forward any views or opinions we may have had.

I shall state very clearly now that I am not singling this man out at all for any criticism and he was not at any fault in any way. He has been put in this situation by the club.This also applies to other members of the SAB, for whom I have the utmost respect for, at the meeting. For the majority at such a high profile meeting it was unclear exactly on whose behalf and under what mandate they speaking for during the meeting. I, on the other hand, have 600 people I represent and had sought their opinion and received over 200 replies. I thought that the new SAB would be about people speaking on behalf of a significant number of fellow fans. To this end I can understand the 2 SAB members speaking on behalf of fellow disabled people and I think it is disgraceful that there is not an official disability supporters association. I encouraged all other SAB members to join WHUISA so the fan’s voice could be heard in the correct and proper way through official channels with openness and transparency. WHUISA have asked for more people to come forward to represent other groups in the West Ham family and have been contacted by a disabled person while we would be happy to have the 2 reps at the meeting on board.

WHUISA has structure and integrity. We are a new association but are ready to work on the issues facing us all in the new stadium through open, honest and productive channels of communication with West Ham United Football Club as well as to foster a relationship of accountability.

WHUISA shall update you when we have further news but in the meantime your feedback on the above issues is most welcome.

Paul Christmas

Joint Chair
WHUISA.


Talking Point

Payet deal done as he flies to France for a medical

TRANSFER UPDATE: The club have just confirmed the transfer.


Sky Sports are claiming Dimitri Payet is flying to France today to complete a medical saying that a deal has been done with Marseille for a £25m transfer fee.

Just after 11am on Sunday Sky reported: “West Ham have agreed a deal to sell Dimitri Payet to Marseille for £25m, according to Sky sources. Payet is currently travelling to France for a medical to complete the transfer to the Ligue 1 club. The fee for the player is understood to be £25m and the acceptance of the deal brings to an end a long-running and occasionally controversial transfer saga”

Marseille have requested the transfer fee is paid over three years which the same terms we agreed with them when buying Payet for £10.7m in 2015. It is thought we still owe in the region of £5m for Payet and this would be offset against the transfer fee.

Reports yesterday suggested the Hammers rejected a £24m bid plus £2m of potential add-ons so it is hoped that the £25m fee being reported is the transfer fee involved and that add-ons may push the deal closer to the £28m mark. One potential add-on is thought to be an sell on clause which would see West Ham receive the first £7m of a transfer fee if he was sold on again.

UPDATE ClaretandHugh sources claim that Marseille have agreed add-ons of £3 million and a 25 per cent sell on clause should Payet be moved on. The top source said: “The deal is virtually done – the manager and players want him out and there is a big 25 per cent sell on fee involved as well as other extras.”

Well connected Darren Lewis from the Daily Mirror claims the deal is nearer £30m with add-ons and says the club will demand the return of a £1m loyalty bonus paid late last year.


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