Proof that West Ham are now a corporate ‘monster’

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AdrianWhen the home side emerged from the tunnel wearing purple, Everton and attending fans may well have needed to double-check they were in the right place when they visited Upton Park on Tuesday night. Yes, West Ham United were wearing purple at home.

The news was delivered to the fans via an online message which claims the Hammers will be wearing it for the entire FA Cup campaign. This is quickly followed by a desperate link to ‘BUY YOUR THIRD KIT NOW’.

I wonder how many begrudging dads, who thought the reasonably priced tickets for the replay would be a cheap night for him and his son, will be trekking to the club shop after the final whistle.

Every Hammers fan has been crying out for a cup run to spice life up over the past few years. I still sit there and revel in the 2006 campaign from time-to-time – I’m not sure I’d be able to stomach looking back and watching the DVDs of us playing in this monstrosity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Allardyce rolled out in it himself before the match, looking like a washed up Barney the dinosaur, with a megaphone calling all fans to rush to the ‘megastore’ after the game to get their hands on the ‘limited edition kit’.

This news comes just after I received a swanky brochure about the Olympic Stadium. Needless to say it is plastered with the new badge, which looks like something the club nicked from a local secondary school’s graphic design class.

Fans have consistently been told that prices for the new stadium would be cheaper due to the extra capacity – that the move would result in football being given back to the community. Now the line is that ‘the Club can confirm they will be comparable with prices for the final season at the Boleyn Ground’.

Prices for the final season at the Boleyn are yet to be released but as the Right Honourable Baroness Brady CBE has already informed us that: ‘After last year’s price freeze across the board, I am pleased we have been able to once again freeze prices for junior supporters’, it’s fair to say we can expect at least a 5% hike in prices for the other age categories.

Further taking advantage of loyal fans’ wishes to be at the final season at Upton Park, the club are asking season-ticket holders who want to renew to lay down a £75 deposit by April, which is certain to be tough for those who save up and pay for their ticket in the Summer, or for those who use the finance scheme.

A trip to the ‘Reservation Centre’ in Westfield, Stratford is also on the agenda for season-ticket holders who can thereby get a virtual view of their seat at the new stadium. It all sounds good except for the fact that, just before you leave, you will be asked to pay a non-refundable 25% of the season-ticket price. It all seems to be playing on fans’ fears that if they don’t cough up, they will lose their spot.

Featured in the new brochure was also a plug for the newly announced ‘Boleyn Bar’. Being named after the old ground and with a menu featuring the likes of pie and mash with liquor, it gives the illusion of a nostalgia-trip for long-time supporters. But you’ll have to lay out a £500 joining fee plus monthly payments of £140! And that excludes VAT! So much for the community.

To add insult to injury, the seats purchased in conjunction with the bar membership are either side of the tunnel. Have we not learned from the disastrous ‘Club Wembley’? The second-half will consistently begin half empty as those who can afford the bar, assumedly close relatives of Roy Keane’s infamous ‘prawn sandwich brigade’, make the most of their ‘free half-time drinks’ (yes, despite the enormous membership fee, the club are describing these drinks as ‘free’).

I’ve always been a fan of David Sullivan and David Gold, thinking they had the club and its fans at heart. I’d still like to believe that but events over the past few days looks like we are well and truly moving away from being a community football club and are becoming a corporate monster.

The players change, the stadium is changing, the badge is changing and now even the home colours are getting a makeover for games in what is the oldest association football competition in the world. Is nothing sacred? It is hard to cling on to what you are even supporting any more, apart from a mere name which will undoubtedly also be open to sponsorship soon.

The nightmare vision of West Ham United PLC, or some derivation of it, playing in a half-empty soulless bowl with a red and yellow kit (following a ‘McDonalds’ takeover) is really beginning to worry me. I’ve trusted Sullivan and Gold to oversee the greatest overhaul in the club’s history but it seems that, in light of recent days, they are losing sight of what makes West Ham special to so many people.

The owners know that West Ham’s claret and blue army (no, not purple) are fiercely loyal and look set to continue to buy into the club despite radical changes, but there is real danger of a total identity loss in the not too distant future.

And no Mr Sullivan, wedging a picture of Bobby Moore in every artist’s impression of the corporate future does not make it all OK.

Follow me on Twitter @RichMaher93

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  • Kevin says:

    You put that Purple Shirt where the sun don’t shine …. That shirt is bang out of order .

  • Barry says:

    No one is forced to buy the shirt. Kids (or their parents for that matter) dont have to have every piece of kit the club offer. Its simply choice, doesnt make anyone a ‘corporate monster’.

  • Spyinthesky says:

    I love the purple strip personally, though probably a loane wolf.

  • Bob says:

    Purple shirt what purple shirt..Bring on the fourth round.

  • Markyboy says:

    I can see all clubs opting for this revenue stream. We will likely see a full branded strip in the not too distant future for cup games. i.e red and white for Coke or blue and silver for Red Bull. We must have been slipped a fiver or two from Cadburys on Tuesday. I am not opposed to trying to earn money for better players… one day we might be able to afford Messi’s left nut.

  • Dave Branch says:

    The Purple shirt…so THATS the reason for Songs display from hell……he must be allergic to the colour purple.

    And theres me thinking that some things were sacred like wearing Claret & Blue for home games ! Bloody horrible !!!!!!!

  • Ryan lee says:

    The purple shirt wasn’t that bad but don’t suit us! It’s just another way to get penny’s from us fans. If we win the fa cup wearing it will you all moan then?. I’m more upset that Carroll is been made no1 striker main man when we had a lethal pacey strike force. Look at the results since he’s been back!

    • Spence55 says:

      Totally disagree. Carroll has played very well since coming back in. Try focusing on the hopeless Nolan who has left us with ten men when he plays. How he gets anywhere near the starting 11 is a total mystery. Give Carroll the service and he will produce.

  • Spence55 says:

    Damn good article Richard. I don’t like the ” emotive blackmail” style of marketing that has emerged over the past season or so, and I can only see things moving into overdrive as the Olympic Stadium move gets ever closer. Its no secret that the Hammers fans are as loyal and die-hard as they come, and its hard not to feel we are being taken advantage of. We will be milked for every last pound, believe me, and we will see a level of corporate governance as never before. The cloth cap has now been replaced by the top hat, pie & mash by haute-cuisine, and its only the fact that we are doing so bloody well that prevents more of a backlash from the rank and file.

  • adrian leahy says:

    They only made the purple kit in adult sizes, had 2k left from a one off order of 4k, just a marketing gimmick to shift remaining shirts, all part of the iconic London tourist attraction Gold and Sullivan are turning us into

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