“It’s all lies, lies, lies” chanted West Ham supporters outside the London Stadium, the Hammers languishing in the relegation zone of the Premier League ahead of their February fixture against Southampton.
Over 2000 fans had gathered to protest against the club’s ownership under David Gold, David Sullivan and vice-chairman Karren Brady, the trio collectively known as ‘GSB’ who have had a ten-year tenure in East London.
Since they took over in 2010, West Ham have had one relegation, one promotion, a highly-controversial stadium move, a new crest and overall, there is a growing feeling among the fanbase that the club is slowly losing its identity.
In a recent supporter survey, 73% voted that Gold, Sullivan and Brady were doing a poor job, 71% said they felt poorly valued as a supporter, and 57% believed that the London Stadium would never feel like home.
The results showing widespread dissatisfaction are the latest chapter in the tale of GSB at West Ham, but how has the story turned so dark and is there any chance of a happy ending?
As the infographic displays, the last decade for West Ham has been turbulent, and ultimately the club have not progressed as much as the fans would have liked.
The cause of the divide between the ‘Claret and Blue faithful’ and the ownership is not solely due to the team’s poor performance over the last ten years, but is instead a case of unfulfilled promises.
Supporters reluctantly accepted the contentious decision to leave the club’s spiritual home on the basis that the London Stadium would elevate West Ham to the level of Europe’s elite.Embed from Getty Images
Upton Park was seen as ‘stifling’ in the eyes of GSB, and the switch to Stratford necessary in order to achieve Sullivan’s ambitious aim of winning the Champions League by 2020.
The club has the 10th highest net spend of Premier League clubs over the last 10 years, pointing to the fact that the lack of success is due to ineffective spending rather than a total lack of financial backing.
West Ham do not employ a Director of Football, while the analysis and scouting departments are understaffed, Sullivan taking control of transfer operations himself with the help of his sons.Embed from Getty Images
The progression of the Hammers will be determined by several factors, but whether or not the ownership is willing to relinquish some power to those with footballing expertise will be crucial to their long-term fate.
GSB guided the club away from a precarious financial position after taking over the club from a struggling Icelandic consortium, but West Ham cannot afford to keep reflecting on the past.
A plan must be instilled with recruitment focusing on players and staff who fit a desired profile – for the club to advance forwards, GSB may have to take a step back.
Roshane Thomas, the West Ham correspondent for The Athletic, said: “It’s an unhappy time right now for fans and the owners, and honestly I don’t see it improving any time soon.”
Listen to the full interview below…