The West Ham United hierarchy have missed a golden opportunity to give unhappy fans what they want at the London Stadium.
Deal agreed as West Ham fans save iconic piece of the club’s heritage after GSB snub
Hammers fans are deeply unhappy with many things since the big move to Stratford.
The major bone of contention is the distance from the stands to the pitch.
And it is easy to see why supporters are so upset given what they had at their beloved Upton Park and the vision sold to them on leaving the famous Boleyn Ground.
GSB pledged to investigate possibility of bringing stands closer to the pitch at the London Stadium
Hammers co-owners David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady pledged to investigate the possibility of bringing seats closer to the pitch.
Seating behind both goals at the London Stadium was reconfigured last year. The seating has been squared off in line with more traditional football stadia.
While it looks better aesthetically, the reality is only a small number of supporters in the middle of the stand will actually move closer – by around 4 metres – to the action.
West Ham fan group Hammers United criticised the reconfiguration last year and said some fans would have worse views as a result.
Titled ‘A step in the wrong direction’ Hammers United questioned the seating changes.
Plans for east and west stands should have been accelerated when it became clear fans would not be back for a long time
The two reconfigured stands Sir Trevor Brooking and Bobby Moore Lower Tiers have been fully designed with any possible future developments with regards to safe standing already in mind. So they will be compatible for future installation, to allow them to be adapted should there be any changes to Premier League guidelines on safe standing.
Brady also pledged to supporters that West Ham would liaise with architects to evaluate the possibility of eventually squaring off the east and west stands of the bowl shaped arena.
It is the chasm between these stands and the pitch that West Ham fans cannot bear.
And GSB – as they are now commonly acronymed – have had a year to accelerate those plans during the pandemic.
Of course the West Ham hierarchy could not have been expected to know how the year would pan out.
But as soon as it became clear that supporters would not be back in any great numbers until at least the beginning of next season, West Ham should have been ready to try and sort the stands at the side of the stadium.
Progress but only a job half done at best
On the pitch West Ham’s superb season will ensure supporters return with big smiles on their faces.
But imagine how delighted they would have been to return to their new home with it actually looking like a proper football stadium all the way around.
There has been no update on what the club plans to do about the east and west stands.
But even if West Ham provided fans with an update to reassure them plans are in the pipeline it would placate many.
For now having the north and south stands squared off is progress. But it’s only a job half done at best.
Jason Cundy absolutely raves about West Ham in best pundit assessment all season