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West Ham supporters’ board “undemocratic” says fan group

West Ham United supporters have written to UEFA as well as the UK Government expressing their concerns about the club’s refusal to meet independent fan groups.

Hammers United have written to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) claiming that West Ham are breaching Government guidelines on supporter engagement – which state clubs should meet at least twice a year with supporters, including democratically structured fan groups.

The group say that the club’s Official Supporters’ Board (OSB) is undemocratic and does not meet the criteria set out by DCMS, and the club are also in breach of UEFA regulations, by excluding democratically constituted fan groups.

“The OSB consists of representatives chosen by club appointees,” Hammers United secretary Lee Rogers told UEFA today. “It is not democratic, no member is elected by supporters and significant issues that concern and affect attending fans are either unspoken or pass without transparency.

“The OSB and club are intrinsically linked, and the OSB do not constitute an independent, formal or democratic body as envisaged by the regulations.

“Instead it is a coercive construct designed to give the appearance of compliance to the minimum terms.”

The group say the structure of the club’s supporter engagement is preventing fans’ concerns around serious issues – such as stewarding, fixtures, travel, price increases, waiting lists and ticket allocations – being raised with senior club executives.

Hammers United point out that West Ham are one of the very few out of the 92 league clubs that does not meet with independent supporter organisations. Last season, Hull City were criticised for excluding Hull City Supporters’ Trust from its supporter engagement, while Newcastle United have not held a fans’ forum since September 2018.

Hammers United’s letter, which went to Peter Gillièron, chairman of UEFA’s fairplay & social responsibility committee this morning, urges the governing body to pressure West Ham United into discussions on the matter.

“We would ask UEFA to urge West Ham United to formally engage in open discussion at a senior level with our independent and democratically elected supporter’s group,” Rogers said. “Rather than exclusively with their own informal and undemocratic body.”

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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
  • SD Europe