Last week we discussed on Rising East how fears about stadium security had left some to avoid travelling to the West Ham Vs Chelsea EFL Cup game at the London Stadium, as a history of clashes between the fans and a questionable police presence could create a cauldron of violence and fear.
And sadly, those fears were proved right as towards the end of the game scenes like those in a horror movie started unfolding in the lower Trevor Brooking stand. Stewards were overwhelmed as fans threw all manner of objects from chairs to coins at each other, and although the police had issued a statement last week laying out their plans, there was criticism that they were to slow to react.
The behaviour and attitude of those involved was both disgusting and vulgar, and put a vile stain on what was the first-ever derby win at the London Stadium. With tax payers now paying for those chairs to replaced, West Ham are planning on handing out 200 banning orders for the so called ‘fans’, and intend to widen the gap between the home and away fans.
The behaviour puts myself, as a season ticket holder, in an awkward situation. I want to continue to support my team, but with incidents now at the past four out of five home games, I find myself questioning if I am safe inside the stadium. Idiotic, petty and shameful fans are destroying what should be a family environment, and if I was a parent I’d start to consider leaving my child at home, which is a seriously tragic state of affairs.
West Ham have since released a new five-point security plan for future home games. The club say:
- Creating more distance between opposing fans to prevent missile throwing. This will be achieved by widening the segregation line on both sides of the lower tier.
- Removing risk groups from the stadium permanently with a ‘zero-tolerance’ banning policy
- Strengthening and widening the lines of segregation on the lower concourse walkway by creating higher barriers and a 10-metre wide sterile area.
- Ensuring home/away fan egress is physically segregated upon exiting the stadium to prevent clashes on the podium. This consists of a physical barrier either side of the away supporter turnstiles, and prevents supporter integration after the game.
- Inside the stadium there will also be the employment of the enhanced tactic of issuing a group of stewards with handheld video cameras. Stewards currently have cameras attached to their armour but it is believed this investment will act as a clear and visible deterrent.
But this all seems too late, as the failure to install a radio system for the Metropolitan Police leaves egg on the face of those on the board who recently claimed the club have a brand new ‘identity and culture’ at the club.