Fans Forum

THE inaugural West Ham United Fans Forum was held at Upton Park on Tuesday evening, where 18 supporters came to fire their questions at Managing Director Paul Aldridge and Financial Director Nick Igoe.

All Season Ticket Holders and Executive members were invited to apply, and the total response of just 44 fans was much lower than initially anticipated.

Questions ranged from issues like relegation from the Premiership and the financial situation of the Club to more trivial, but no less important, points like the price of a pint and the seating signage in the Dr Martens Lower.

Financial Director Nick Igoe assured the fans that the Club remained on a sound financial footing.

He said: "Our detailed financial projections show that we can operate in the Championship throughout the period to 31 May 2006. Beyond that date detailed projections have not yet been prepared but wages will naturally reduce as players' contracts expire and we will continue to make whatever adjustment is necessary to wages and other costs to reflect any reduction in income. We have planned in an orderly way and there is no danger of administration."

However, despite the financial challenges, when Managing Director Paul Aldridge was pressed on the subject of his ambitions for the Club, his main goal was to return the Club to the Premiership.

"Our aim is get the Club back into the Premiership," he said, "and to also try and ensure that we stay there if we do gain promotion"

Nick Igoe confirmed that, had we achieved promotion last summer, an initial sum of about £14 million would have been made available to the manager to strengthen the squad.

He added: "Since the stadium redevelopment, we now have the potential to be one of the top seven or eight revenue generating clubs in the Premiership."

Other points raised in the Forum included match and season ticket prices, transfer dealings, stewarding, the pouring of pints, work in the community, and even the lack of litter bins around the Boleyn Ground - incidentally a security directive from the Metropolitan Police.

Those who attended all seemed to agree that the Forum was a good idea to improve communication between the board and fans at Upton Park.

Lee Pearce, a Season Ticket Holder in the Dr Martens Upper, said: "The Forum is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between the board and supporters. It gives the supporters an avenue to air their thoughts and is a move in the right direction."

Season Ticket Holder Stuart Allen added: "It is very useful as fans are given the chance to interact with the board in a small-scale meeting, and the discussion was pretty constructive."

Paul Aldridge commented: "We tried to answer people's questions as openly as possible, and give supporters the chance to tell us their thoughts on any aspect of the Club. People seemed to be happy with the style of the meeting and there were a lot of excellent points raised, which will help us run the business in the greater interests of the supporters."

All the 44 fans that applied to the Fans Forum have been invited to attend, and those that were not present on Tuesday evening will be at Upton Park for the next Forum on Tuesday 14th December.