Talking Point

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As we approach the ten-year anniversary of the West Ham ownership of David Sullivan and David Gold I have given my own personal review the ten-point pledge they made back in 2010 to see how they have done.

The pledge and how they have fared is subjective but I have attempted to give a balanced review.

1. Appoint the right manager

Our efforts are focused on recruiting a high-calibre manager with the necessary experience to deliver good football and, most importantly, results. A shortlist of candidates has been identified and the appointment will be made with enough time to prepare for pre-season.

Verdict: They got off to bad start with Avram Grant but Sam Allardyce while unpopular did was what needed at the time and did the job that was asked of him. Slaven Bilic was a popular choice and they also showed ambition with Manuel Pellegrini despite it ultimately ending infailure. Th e jury is still out on David Moyes but we hope he comes good and proves a lot of people wrong. On balance they scrape a PASS on this pledge.

2. Sign new players
For too long, the focus has been on players leaving rather than arriving. We will strengthen in the right areas to ensure an exciting and balanced squad that is well placed to cope with the rigours of a Premier League season. Our main aim will be to bring in players hungry to do well who share our ambitions and aspirations.

Verdict: In the last 10 years, they have invested £285m net spend on the playing squad. Since the move to London Stadium, there has been a net spend of £210.4m demonstrating how the move has allowed the Board to accelerate its investment in the squad. I am sure many people will argue that many of these players have failed to produce but when you accept the pledge was to sign new players I think he has to be a PASS.

3. More investment in the Academy
Tony Carr remains at the heart of the club and his work in developing future first-team players remains essential for the long-term success of this club. We will make sure homegrown talent nurtured in the West Ham way will always be given the chance to complement established players brought in from elsewhere.

Verdict: There has been an investment of over £10m investment across training facilities, £4m of which is on Chadwell Heath. The Board say they are absolutely committed to ensuring the Academy goes from strength to strength and that the Club continues to recruit and develop the best young players. Last season saw Declan Rice make his senior England debut and four Academy graduates made their first team debuts. Many will argue that West Ham don’t spend enough and remain behind the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs but we don’t have their financial power so have to life within our means. As the pledge as more investment in the Academy and didn’t promise to compete with the top six it has to be a PASS too.

4. Continue to clear the debt
We have a responsibility to ensure this club is never again placed in a perilous position. Great strides have been taken to get us on a sound financial footing but there is still a way to go. Difficult decisions have had to be made – and that will continue to be the case – but our bottom line on the bottom line is to ensure the club survives.

Verdict: In 2010, the Club was £110m in debt and heading towards administration and in an awful financial state in hands of the Icelandic’s. Today, the Club is financial stable and
sustainable, bank debt is paid down and they have attracted further investment to help make it sustainable. The only remaining debt is owed to share holders which is deferred. £45m owed to Sullivan and Gold while £9.5m owed to Tripp Smith. Has to be a PASS

5. Freeze season ticket prices for renewals
We are delighted we have been able to freeze season ticket prices, save for the VAT increase, but we will not stop there. We are looking at more ways of rewarding those fans who make such a long-term commitment and have excellent offers for younger supporters, who are the lifeblood of this club. Member benefits will also improve.

Verdict: I am not sure this was ever supposed to be a commitment to freeze season ticket prices forever. They were frozen for many years and the price rises have been well below inflation when factored over the ten years. West Ham say they are extremely proud to be the home of affordable family football in London and the Premier League.

West Ham welcomes around 10,000 children and young adults to London Stadium every week for just £5.21 per game on average with their £99 under 16s season ticket. 
The Club also comes out very favourably in terms of the average season ticket prices for under 21s and over 65s, with those supporters able to enjoy each match at London Stadium from as little as £8.42 as part of a season ticket – almost one-and-a-half times less than the average Premier League price of £21 per match.

An adult-supporting Hammer can watch their team for just under half the average price across the league, which works out at just £16.84 per match if they purchase a £320 season ticket, which is the cheapest available season ticket in the Premier League. Another PASS

6. Build the status and image of the club
Our standing at home and abroad is rightly built on our proud history and our commitment to young talent. The values of the Academy of Football developed since the days of Bobby Moore define what we are all about. With the world's spotlight set to shine on this part of London, the time is right to spread the word further.

Verdict: This one is highly subjective but there is no doubt the West Ham brand has become more well-known worldwide in the last ten years although much of this could be said to be the proliferation and popularity of the Premier League. There is no arguing that 60,000 tickets are sold out each week for every League game with plans to raise this to 62,500. There are 54,000 season tickets. West Ham have the 7 th highest total attendance in Europe. The Hammers have the 2 nd highest attendance in the Premier League

The club have grown a digital audience of over 7.7m over the past ten years. In 2010, the Club has no place in top-ranking football clubs but today West Ham have been ranked by Forbes as the 14 th Most Valuable Football Team In The World – $754m

By Deloitte West Ham are ranked as the Top 17th Football Club in the world

By Brand Finance West Ham are ranked the fastest growing brand in world football with a brand value of $274m.

There have been some gaffes and own goals in the last ten years which have led to headlines in the British press which have tarnished our image as club but overall I would still rate this pledge as a PASS

7. Make it enjoyable to come and watch

We want to bring the fun back. It is a serious business but we know you work hard all week and want to kick back at the weekend and enjoy yourselves. We want you to be excited on a matchday, and not just about the style of football. We are looking at ways to improve our pre-match and half-time entertainment and will welcome suggestions.

Verdict: There can be no doubts we have witnessed some enjoyable games and historic wins over the past ten years particularly under Slaven Bilic and Manuel Pellegrini but there have been awful times under Avram Grant and Sam Allardyce too. The change of the stadium takes some getting used to. This is still a work in progress we are going in the right direction. The Club have taken on board suggestions from supporters and have been introducing improvements to improve the matchday experience at the London Stadium the entertainment has to start on the pitch with the players.
JURY STILL OUT

8. Get closer to the community
This club does excellent work in the local area already but we want to move even closer to schools and businesses on our doorstep. We can extend our commitment to multi-sports, education and healthy living and show there is more to this club than just first-team football. We take our social responsibility very seriously.

Verdict: An area hopefully no supporter can disagree with. West Ham have invested £18m in in the local community since the London Stadium move was confirmed and launched the Players’ Project regarded as one of the most ambitious and well thought out community project within the Premier League. The club have also committed to invest a further £15m over three years to community projects.
A big PASS on this pledge!

9. Go for the Olympic Stadium
Leaving the Boleyn Ground will be a wrench but the Olympic Stadium is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a financial and football sense. Our potential partnership with Newham Council promises to take this club to a new level, while protecting our history and traditions. To move forward, we have to move – but always with an eye on the past.

Verdict: We accept not everyone likes the London Stadium, but it is hard to argue they didn’t ‘Go for the Olympic Stadium’ and won the tender process not once but twice. While some will argue it is not a traditional football stadium it was an opportunity too good to turn down and the fact that the stadium is sold out to 60,000 each week with 54,000 season ticket holders and a waiting list suggests they were right to go for it! West Ham have the 7th highest attendance in Europe and 2 nd highest in the Premier League so it has it be marked a PASS

10. Listen to supporters

Arguably the most important of all is our commitment to listen to what you have to say. We know we are just the custodians of this club. You who follow us every week, whether near or far, are the true owners. Whether talking to you online or in print, or face to face at fan forums, we will be open, transparent and available.

Verdict: This is probably one of the more contentious issues when it comes to the pledge, many will argue they don’t engage with supporters enough or don’t engage in the right way or don’t engage with the right groups but it is all highly subjective.

The Official West Ham United Supporters’ Board was established in place of the old Supporters Advisory Board to create an open, transparent and ongoing dialogue between the Club and supporters and ensures that the views of the fanbase are heard at the highest level of the Club but it has had its critics.

The members were chosen by an independent selection process. The club say they strongly believe that they have created a meaningful model for engagement, consultation, and structured dialogue. The Club now has five members in the Supporter Services team, a 50 strong team of Matchday Supporter Liaison Officers, nine information points on matchday.

West Ham have been ranked third in the Premier League for fan engagement a new study has revealed. Only Leicester City and Everton score higher. Overall the Hammers were ranked 28th from all 92 clubs in all four divisions.

There is no doubt there is still room for improvement for supporter engagement but as the old the saying goes you can never please all of the people all of the time.

Still room for improvement so marked as the JURY IS STILL OUT

Fellow WHTID Author Nigel Kahn together with fellow presenter John Bucci discusses the Ten-point pledge on Moore Than Just A Podcast last night which can be listened or downloaded from www.moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk