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Boycott the bars: West Ham fans push back on high prices

West Ham United supporters are boycotting food and drink at the London Stadium in a stand against price hikes introduced by the ground’s caterers.

Boycott the Bars – a boycott organised by the West Ham United Supporters’ Trust (WHUST), the Independent Supporters Committee (ISC) and other fan groups – has seen concession stands go unused at games due to high prices.

It’s not just supporters in East London who are unhappy, the club themselves have threatened to take legal action against the owners of the London Stadium if beer and food prices are not lowered.

The club are unhappy with the prices, which are set by their landlords, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), and catering partner Delaware North.

The most expensive beverage cost £7.20 for the season-opener against Manchester City and Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Danish side Viborg in their Europa Conference League qualifier.

“It’s not just the price of the beers – it’s everything. The prices are far too high” says Sue Watson, chair of WHUST.

“£2.50 for Twix. £5 for a coke – this all adds up very quickly for a family trip, particularly in the second poorest borough in London.

“When they’re trying to make it an affordable venue for family football these prices look unsustainable.”

 

The agreement between the club and its landlords states that the price of food and drink must be equivalent to comparable clubs – but prices for 2022-23 exceed those at Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

“There’s been a great response to Boycott the Bars,” Sue told us. “The trust and the ISC will consider our next steps. But the boycott will continue until an agreement is reached.”

WHUST praised the response of the club, who have been proactive in seeking price reductions for fans – threatening legal action against the landlords and operators – as well as promoting the free water refill station and water fountains on site.

Sue said: “The mark-up is ridiculous – it’s far too much of an increase. The operators have made an agreement and they’re obligated to stick to it.

“They’re pricing ordinary fans out of refreshments at football.”

Growing pains

West Ham United’s move to the London Stadium was a controversial one and the lack of independent pubs, shops, street vendors and other matchday mainstays around the new ground has exacerbated this season’s problems with food and drink.

Now Sue fan reps are determined to improve matchdays around London Stadium.

“It is hard to lose your home, and change of this magnitude is hard,” she told us. “It’s very different to Upton Park. I’ve been supporting West Ham for 57 years, the vast majority of those years were at the Boleyn Ground.

“But we’re in dialogue with the club to improve the walkways to the ground. We want them to reflect the history, heritage and culture of the club more distinctly.

“Part of that is getting in independent street vendors and other sellers. But it can’t just be commercial activity. The whole atmosphere and ambiance around the ground has to improve.”

WHUST say the club has been responsive to these issues and it is still work in progress.

“Something needs to happen,” Sue added. “But it’s looking positive.”

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball