West Ham sup­port­ers face heavy penalty for er­rant be­hav­iour

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

WEST Ham United say sup­port­ers who in­vaded the pitch and threw mis­siles to­wards the di­rec­tors’ box dur­ing Sat­ur­day’s home de­feat by Burn­ley will be banned for life.

At least two sup­port­ers en­tered the play­ing area dur­ing the sec­ond half in which Burn­ley scored three times to win 3-0 and leave West Ham in rel­e­ga­tion dan­ger from the Premier League.

One of the fans, a 61-year-old busi­ness­man, took a cor­ner flag and planted it in the cen­tre cir­cle to protest the club’s move from Up­ton Park Sta­dium.

West Ham co-own­ers David Gold and David Sul­li­van were ver­bally abused and had coins thrown at them in the di­rec­tors’ box as fans con­gre­gated be­low.

The club, which moved into the Olympic 2012 sta­dium, now known as the Lon­don Sta­dium, at the be­gin­ning of last sea­son as lead ten­ants, have held emer­gency meet­ings with stake­hold­ers.

“West Ham United are com­mit­ted to tak­ing de­ci­sive and pos­i­tive ac­tion with the pri­mary fo­cus of en­sur­ing Lon­don Sta­dium is a safe, com­fort­able and se­cure en­vi­ron­ment for sup­port­ers at­tend­ing fu­ture matches,” a state­ment said.

“Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dents which marred the sec­ond half of the Premier League fix­ture with Burn­ley, the Club is con­duct­ing a full and thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and has at­tended a se­ries of emer­gency meet­ings with Lon­don Sta­dium stake­hold­ers.

“The Club is work­ing in close con­junc­tion with the Metropoli­tan Po­lice to iden­tify those in­di­vid­u­als, who en­tered the pitch dur­ing the sec­ond half, and with sta­dium op­er­a­tor LS185, us­ing Lon­don Sta­dium’s high-qual­ity CCTV footage, to iden­tify those who threw mis­siles, both of which are spe­cific of­fences un­der the Foot­ball (Of­fences) Act 1991.”

“Any in­di­vid­ual found guilty will be banned from at­tend­ing any West Ham United fix­ture, home and away, for life and the Club will re­quest the courts to serve a ban­ning or­der to pre­vent these in­di­vid­u­als at­tend­ing any foot­ball matches in fu­ture.”

While West Ham an­nounced a £43.5 mil­lion (RM237 mil­lion) profit in the year end­ing May 2017 and record turnover of £183.3 mil­lion pounds — co­in­cid­ing with the move away from Up­ton Park — re­sults on the pitch have con­tin­ued to de­cline.

West Ham are two places, and three points, above the rel­e­ga­tion zone with eight matches to play, in­clud­ing sev­eral against clubs in the top six.

That and a per­ceived loss of iden­tity fol­low­ing the move to the Lon­don Sta­dium, has fu­elled fans’ un­rest but West Ham says it has a “zero-tol­er­ance” pol­icy to­wards bad be­hav­iour.

Another meet­ing with var­i­ous sta­dium stake­hold­ers and the Metropoli­tan Po­lice is planned for to­day.

“The Club will make clear that its pri­mary con­cern is for the safety and com­fort of its sup­port­ers on match­days and, to that end, will lead dis­cus­sions cen­tred on the safety man­age­ment plans put in place and the polic­ing and stew­ard­ing for fu­ture fix­tures at Lon­don Sta­dium,” a state­ment said.

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