Supporter Advisory Board meeting

The West Ham United Supporter Advisory Board (SAB) met at the Boleyn Ground on Monday evening to reflect on an eventful penultimate season at the Boleyn Ground and to raise questions and comments on behalf of the wider supporter base.       

The SAB has three principal objectives. Firstly, to represent the whole supporter base to the Club’s board and senior executives, to shape Club policy and finally to represent the Club at external forums, as and when required by the Club.  

In line with the latter, discussion began with a short address from the Club’s Football Officer, Andy Sheldon of the Metropolitan Police, who spoke of the forthcoming Football Fans’ Conference on Thursday 11 June.       

With matchday policing high on the agenda, the Conference will see the assembly of supporters from London clubs in addition to representation from the Football Supporters’ Federation and Mr Sheldon invited participation from SAB members.    

Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Tara Warren then updated attendees on the Club’s very latest plans for the farewell season at the Boleyn Ground. Following extensive input from the SAB in previous meetings, broad match themes have since been agreed and will be announced in the weeks following the release of the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League fixtures. 

With a view to shaping plans, supporters shared their ideas on a prospective Claret and Blue day, a fixture dedicated to cult heroes and their all-time favourite Boleyn Ground moments.       

The remainder of the evening was dedicated to addressing the questions of the SAB and those submitted to them by fellow supporters to ensure that the wider supporter base is appropriately represented.        

Mrs Warren and Managing Director Angus Kinnear firstly responded to queries on the seat selection process for new Stadium Season Tickets. With Band 1 Season Ticket Holders now attending their Reservation Centre appointments, questions were asked of supporters’ opportunity to upgrade their seat and bring new Season Ticket Holders with them. 

Mr Kinnear explained that the Club had gone to great lengths to model the likely requests for additional Season Tickets within each price band and that the aim is to accommodate as many of them as possible. This, naturally, is helped by the fact that there are an additional 20,000 seats in the Stadium and seats remain available on the halfway line.     

He reiterated that the process would be strictly controlled and so the Club could guarantee each Season Ticket Holder a comparable seat in terms of band and location, based on their seat for the final season at the Boleyn Ground.   

Similarly, it was also asked whether supporters would be able to change their seats at the new Stadium come 2016/17. As is the policy at the Boleyn Ground, subject to availability, all Season Ticket Holders will be able to request a change of location when renewing their ticket for each new season.  

However, the Virtual Venue at the Reservation Centre is such that supporters will have the technology at their disposal to pick a seat location which is right for them. 

Sticking with the new Stadium, it was also confirmed that changes to the colour and design of the seating would form part of the final transformation that is set to follow the Rugby World Cup fixtures. Mrs Warren stressed that the Rugby World Cup marked a distinct pause in the construction timetable and that the Stadium’s full conversion to football mode and its transformation into the home of West Ham United would follow the tournament.     

She reiterated that the Club was fully aware of the importance of this to supporters and has therefore committed significant resource, both financially and in time, in order to reach a solution that would please supporters. This will be revealed once it has been finalised and approved by all parties.         

Elsewhere, the prospect of a singing section was again discussed and supporters were reassured that Reservation Centre advisors would do their utmost to seat supporters with like-minded fans. SAB members were also pleased to learn that the new Stadium would be fully connected, with the aim being to have wifi, 3G and 4G available to all visitors.   

On a similar note, supporters asked for clarification as to whether, as at the Boleyn Ground, away supporters would be housed in the lower tier at the new Stadium. It was explained that because of the way the Stadium’s constructed for access and segregation, away supporters will be housed in the both the upper and lower tier.        

Aside from all things Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, SAB members were keen to know about plans for the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds, specifically the possibility of an official Club tour.  The Club confirmed that any such decisions would depend on who West Ham draw, the demand and logistics.   

It was also confirmed that in line with the Board’s commitment to affordable family football and to rewarding its loyal supporters, it was likely that prices for Europa League qualifying fixtures would be sensible and Season Ticket Holders could expect a preferential pricing point.      

Finally, given that the Club, at the time, were still in the process of recruiting a new manager, it was thought sensible to keep any football-specific questions for future meetings with the appropriate representatives.