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Season tickets – why the universal anger?

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Rare, indeed, for anyone who knows their West Ham history that differing supporters’ groups, web sites and fan newspapers have all appeared to unite in their opinions and language. It seems the club management have managed to achieve that very thing.

The club has added a year to the age for even qualifying for a concession ticket, from 65 to 66 years of age meaning probably hundreds of the most loyal supporters are now having to scrape together enough to afford this increase as their expected concessions have been whipped away for the 2024/5 season.

In addition, new purchases of ‘concessions’ tickets which offer discounts for children and older ‘senior’ fans – will only allow for new seats to be purchased in. the very top tier at the stadium.

New concession season tickets are only available in the least accessible areas.

Ripping up the concessions policy and re-writing the rules, to my mind puts in doubt future generations’ memories and experiences like those I have been lucky enough to have. How will older, less able Season Ticket holders, many with mobility issues, be able to climb up to seats, now exclusively in virtually unreachable upper zones of the stadium? The new planned location for concessions is the very highest, with the least accessible seats in the whole 65,000-seater ground. This feels like both an insult to less able-bodied hammers fans and a complete middle finger to the very traditions espoused by the very same club in 2016/7 as a justification for the migration to Stratford – which then trumpeted the era of ‘affordable family football’.

In short, it stinks.

I tried to make it back to London Stadium after my own mobility issues in 2022 and even though I only had to get about halfway up the stairs to my seat, I was sweating profusely and in need of oxygen having virtually hopped all the way from Hackney Wick. The thought of new concession ‘over 66’s’ having to continue right to the very top is both scary, and in my opinion, verging on discriminatory. How many defibrillators is the club planning to install up in that rarefied air?

For many of us, fortnightly visits to London Stadium and before that to Upton Park formed a feature of our lives over years, often decades. Indeed, through times of personal stress, bereavement or redundancy for example, the ‘ritual’ of attending the same place, in the same seat with the same family or friends, come-what-may over many years, becomes a huge constant in a bewilderingly changing world. Memories of trips with dad or with a young grandchild are frequently mentioned by supporters as being their most vivid and valuable.

It isn’t about the often-forgettable football, it’s the feeling of this being ‘our’ club, even ‘our ‘seat, our home, a rock on which we can anchor during difficult times in our life: Championship football with my son every two weeks certainly saw me through some hard times off the pitch.  Because of our season tickets in Bobby Moor Upper, I had something uplifting to look forward to during a challenging life phase and at least for a couple of hours, I could forget everything except being with my son amidst the same familiar faces, singing the Christian Dailly song and shouting in vain at Robbie Stockdale to run towards the opposition’s goal.

Future generations won’t be able to share these life experiences if older and younger hammers get bundled to the least accessible, highest, furthest away seats. You could even say youngsters won’t come at all – I wouldn’t have struggled every 14 days to the top tiers with my ten-year old if that had been the only option to avoid paying full price for him. I’d have stayed at home.

As Gonzo stated elsewhere, the financial income generated from implementing this is about £600,000 a year. Peanuts when the annual turnover is hundreds of millions. It feels as if last season’s profligacy of losing tens of millions of pounds through badly judged player sales is to be recouped by giving future generations of the youngest and oldest West Ham supporters a smart kick in the goolies, grabbing them by the ankles, holding them up in the air and shaking their pockets free of every piece of loose change. Behaviour more akin to a loathsome playground bully.

 The Public Relations damage is enormous with even the New York Times reporting on this today.  So, either those in the decision-making positions are naive and didn’t appreciate the fuss that would ensue, or they really don’t give a toss about their supporters.

I guess soon we will find out which of these is the case: If the club backtracks, issues a statement and rectifies the positioning of senior and junior concessions to a more accessible position lower down in the stadium as they could and in my opinion should, we will know that this decision was just another massive cock up.

If however, they stick to their guns, immune to building pressure from journos, petitions, national media outlets and supporter groups alike, then that will pretty much confirm what many have been claiming for years: That, despite frequent press releases to the contrary, ‘they’ really don’t give a stuff about the fans, the heritage and ‘our’ memories, and will have just unmasked themselves as being focussed exclusively on screwing as much money out of the business and the supporters as  commercially possible.

Shame really, I’ve deliberately been quite neutral about ‘The Board’ until now, always trying to see the full picture and never actually criticising those who have invested hundreds of millions in the business: In my opinion their investment gives them a right to make decisions to maximise their returns. But, with such tiny gains to be made from this, it feels more that future older and younger generations are just being pushed to the very periphery and eventually will find themselves airbrushed out altogether in the pursuit of another half a million. Which makes me feel very, very angry.

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Like everyone else, lifelong WHU fan and season ticket holder in old BMU stand at Upton Park from 2003. Billy Bonds these days with my adult son and impatiently waiting for my Grandson to be old enough to initiate him before his mum grabs him for Man U. All opinions are my own very biased ones.

0 comments

  • Morsley says:

    Never renewed my season ticket after we left the Boleyn for that dump and i have never regretted my decision once in all those years…i go to all our away games as i am lucky enough to have contacts that allow me to purchase those tickets but the way fans err sorry Ms Brady i mean customers! i am surprised more actions not taken….wait till the TV games are announced and Turn up but do not go inside embarrass the board tell them why those seats are empty but truthfully they do not care.

  • Dave says:

    The next thing on the list is the cost of food and drink.
    Think everyone should not by a scrap from the club until they start to realise what they are doing.
    Everyone can go 90 mins without food and drink…
    Claret & Hugh could take the lead across the fan groups ?
    It’s time to stand up to this.
    Tickets-
    Believe me if they’re happy to attack the young who have no say and the old who kept this club going through the 70’s & 80’s then you’re next….

    • Anne says:

      The future holds plastic fans like Chelsea if we continue to be successful or an empty stadium with tumbleweed if we struggle snd lose our. Best players.

    • Darren says:

      Correct me if i’m wrong, but the club don’t have anything to do with the cost of food & drink?

  • Anon says:

    We need Sullivan and part time Brady out . As for this website taking a stand against the owners there is no chance they are the owners propaganda outlet

    • Martin Treasure says:

      I don’t think by any stretch could you call this post ‘owners propaganda’.Just saying.

  • Anne says:

    Big risk for West Ham here. A high achieving team attracts fair weather fans who will pay the full price for the best seats in the house on an occasional basis. Longer term if we struggle or worse you’ve lost the next generation of fans who have either been priced out of forced out. I’m not prepared to pay full price for my young son to get a decent view so we will take stock this season and catch what we can on tv until the club reviews its pricing strategy.

  • Dan pinner says:

    I was disabled season ticket holder till two seasons ago, purchased new ticket only to find out disabled car park moved to other side of stadium no way could I walk that far,so asked for refund
    Left a bitter taste,supporter since 1963

    • Darren says:

      I have a disabled season ticket and i’ve been on the list for a parking space for years, and was told it might be a very long time. How did you get a space after coming back?

  • jonny says:

    We are now customers..Not fans..All you have to do is look around you during a season.
    How many faces are the same?..With the transport links ..City airport etc. ..Its so easy for any one who fancies watching a PL game to turn up..They dont have to support West Ham or the opposition.
    My concern at the moment is when people have purchased cheaper seats at the back of the stadium and make their way down to the more expensive seats that are vacant.
    This is an on going trend that is being ignored by the stewards and the club.
    There is a group near me with about six people currently occupying four seats during the whole season…This pushes the elderly woman on the end of the row in to the aisle.
    The club are not interested…If you dont like it dont go..End of…That will be the case for me sadly.

  • Steve Clarke says:

    69 yrs of age been going since 1964 and had a season ticket since stadiums went all seater plus an additional one at the bowl from when the move was forced upon us. Could just about manage Everest atm but Grandson not keen on giving me a piggy back in years to come.
    Well written article Martin, much better than the obvious C&P’s that appear on here these days.

  • Kevlar says:

    I totally agree with Martin treasures article,particularly about senior season ticket holders bringing the next generation of west ham fans to games with them.I started to support west ham when my grandfather took me to the boleyn ground.And it is discriminating against the loyal senior season ticket holders who’ve supported west ham all their lives.David Sullivan should show them some respect and reinstate their concessions and rights to be able to relocate anywhere in the stadium that they choose at the concession rate.

  • Joe Luke says:

    Well it is west ham I stopped go after years of home and away games when they drought out the bond scheme. I had a seat in the east stand upper for years I first started going in 1957.

  • Deathblow says:

    Fantastic piece of writing, Martin, and you speak for many West Ham supporters in the same position as you. You are a proper West Ham supporter and your words matter.

    I despise this board as it is. We are customers and as far as they’re concerned you can cough up or go to hell.

    I have to cut down on food and many other things to afford my season ticket. I do this because I love West Ham, but very soon I’ll be totally priced out.

    The stadium is AWFUL and the cheap seats are horrendous. They are not fit for people like you and it’s disgusting, but not surprising the club have done this.

    I will continue to speak out over this even though the changes don’t apply to me at the moment.

    I am so sorry for all our loyal fans who deserve better. Thank you for writing this.

  • Dan Woodards says:

    The club don’t care if the over 66s don’t turn up. Your past support counts for nothing. If the seat you used to occupy is free they will sell it on easily, either as a season ticket to a new “customer” or match by match to a tourist from China or Korea. What’s more, those people will probably buy more “match day merchandise” than any over 66. Upton Park is gone, the East End spirit is gone, the club we knew exists in name only. Cough up or move on.

  • D.f.butcher says:

    I’ve supported west ham all my life and I don’t come from the east end , and me and my wife my son and grandson are season ticket holders, you don’t have to be cockney to appreciate the vibe watching the club you love, quite agree with the points raised in the article about youngsters being the future?

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