The Blind Hammer Column

Blind Hammer looks at the latest example of an unpleasant campaign.

The reporting of the so called “Mascot Scandal” demonstrates yet again, the Guardian unpleasant and biased football journalism.

For their own reason, the Guardian have decided that the decision to allow West Ham use of the London Stadium is a national disgrace. Ever since, they have pursued a relentless vendetta.

Routinely they snidely describe West Ham as “Tax Payers United”. This unwarranted smear may have been funny as a one off satirical comment but the constant smearing as West Ham as thieves of national resources is one eyed at best. They have shown surprising silence about the Stadium operators need to control budgets.

The good news story about the move to the London Stadium receives no attention at all. Instead every chance is taken to slur the venue. It has been described by them, completely unfairly, as a “soulless bowl”, Lacking in atmosphere. Whilst the London Stadium is self-evidently not Upton Park it does in fact reportedly create more atmosphere than that at similar Stadiums such as the Emirates and Etihad.

The Guardian gloried in reporting fan unrest when the team were performing poorly. They tried to link performance to the alleged Stadium failings.

Now the team is performing better this narrative is not so convenient.
They have moved to other targets. Their latest attack concerns West Ham alleged greed and avarice for charging fees for Children to appear as Mascots.

The headline of this criticism is all about West Ham, even though West Ham are not the only club, by any means, to charge fees for this.

Now charging parents £700 for their Children to appear as Mascots is undeniably steep. I would never contemplate doing this. However I would also never pay through the nose for a Corporate Box either. The ability to pay for privileged access to Football Stadia is a fact of Premiership life. In reality the description of West Ham as avaricious is completely unfair.

On Saturday West Ham sold an extraordinary 54,887 seats for an FA Cup game against Birmingham. There is no doubt that this gate, starkly distinguished from Spurs recent 30,000 at Wembley, arises not just from loyal West Ham support but also progressive ticketing policy.

For the game against Birmingham I personally paid £16 with the club providing a free seat for my sighted carer and space for my Guide Dog. Tickets were available to the public on general sale for £10. Any adult paying for a seat could bring a child for only £1. A father and son, or Mother and daughter could then attend the game on Saturday for £11.

A key part of West Ham’s bid for the London Stadium was their commitment to provide affordable football. They have delivered on this promise for 3 seasons now. It is still possible to pay for an expensive ticket, as at all grounds, but West Ham have consistently held prices down for other supporters. I still pay £299 for my concessionary Season ticket, a sum identical to that which I paid in my first season at the London Stadium. This ticket is incidentally cheaper than the Season ticket I had at Upton Park.

As reported on this site last week, West Ham ticket revenue has not grown, and remains at a surprisingly low level. . They are selling nearly twice as many tickets now, but at a lower price.

None of this fits the Guardian’s view of West Ham as a greedy avaricious club. As these facts do not fit their desired narrative they instead focus on the fees charged to the tiny number of families using the Mascot facility.

Nothing it seems will be reported which detracts from a view of West ham as a club fleecing not only the Tax payer but their supporters.

There are, in fact, lots of good news stories about West Ham and their supporters. West Ham have a continuing and extending reputation for providing one of the best, if not the best, disabled access in the country. This improvement extends far beyond pre-existing excellent access facilities at the Stadium. For example, as well as providing free in stadium commentary support for blind and visually impaired supporters West Ham organise 18 buses to convey the increasing number of their disabled supporters attending games. West Ham are making it possible for disabled supporters who could never previously attend, to now achieve their ambition. These positives are never reported.

Rich men and women will buy privileged access to their favourite football club. Short of a Social revolution this will continue . The important thing is that affordable access is provided for the rest of us. In this sense we can, despite the Guardian vendetta, be justifiably proud of our club.
David Griffith.