West Ham United were hit with a £100,000 fine yesterday for ugly fan protests which spilled onto the pitch last season.

Of course £100,000 is a lot of money (whufc.com). Even in terms of fines dished out by football authorities it is a lot of money.

In fact West Ham seem to be dealt with more harshly than others in that regard over the years as a record £5million fine from the Premier League over the Carlos Tevez affair still testifies.

In the grand scheme of things in the modern day game, though, £100k is pocket change.

Especially to West Ham, a club which proudly trumpeted the fact it was the 17th richest in world football last season.

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Many will point the finger of blame at supporters given the angry protests directly resulted in the fine.

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The fine that represents so much more to West Ham

But there was a lot more to it than that.

Fans were at the end of their tether with owners David Sullivan and David Gold and their vice-chairman Karren Brady.

Furious at broken promises over ambition, transfer spending and the stadium move, the protests proved to be a line in the sand.

Nobody can condone the actions of a minority who overstepped the mark. But by the same token nobody can deny those very protests prompted a much-needed revolution at West Ham.

To their credit Sullivan and Gold finally listened and in the summer went about righting many of the wrongs.

Splashing the cash to bring in title-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini and his attacking brand of football.

Then backing him with an unprecedented transfer spend of £100 million.

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‘Professional’ Arnautovic PR a nonsense

Recruitment was overhauled. Sullivan stepped back and put it in the hands of newly-appointed director of football Mario Husillos and Pellegrini.

Record signings, improvements on the pitch and off it at the London Stadium have made for a much more enjoyable campaign so far.

That is until talisman Marko Arnautovic started agitating for a big money move to China.

West Ham fans were being told just how professional Arnautovic had been last week amidst all the speculation.

How he had turned up to training and vowed not to let his teammates down.

A pathetic staged goodbye wave to fans during the win over Arsenal gave a glimpse at the reality, though.

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A delicious irony and novel way to pay fine

Then came the inevitable ‘not in a fit state of mind to play’ scenario for West Ham’s trip to Bournemouth, a game they duly lost 2-0 looking utterly toothless up front.

That game could have propelled West Ham up to seventh place.

Instead they have dropped down to 10th and the merry-go-round of uncertainty continues.

The £100,000 may be insignificant in the bigger picture.

But just like the protests which prompted it – and the subsequent turnaround in fortunes they sparked – there could be something of a delicious irony lurking.

Arnautovic is West Ham’s second highest earner on – yes you guessed it – £100,000 per week (Spotrac).

Fans and a plethora of pundits from Ray Parlour to Jamie Redknapp and Paul Merson have called for West Ham to refuse to pay Arnautovic his wages for last week after he made himself unavailable for selection.

How fitting it would be to use that money instead to pay the fine which marked a watershed moment in the recent history of West Ham and show no player is bigger than the club.

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