West Ham supporters’ groups have raised concerns over the Premier League club’s season ticket renewal process, which involved ballots for reduced capacity games.
The West Ham United Independent Supporters Association (WHUISA), who were reportedly included in the talks regarding the renewal process, along with the Hammers United supporters’ club, has urged the club to rethink its renewal policy.
The group said many fans are feeling “panicked and pressured into making a decision” with the renewal deadline currently set for August 28, despite uncertainty surrounding the return of fans. It has also said the club needs to address those with specific health needs, those shielding, older supporters and those who are facing financial challenges.
Three renewal options have been presented to fans, and two of those would require paying for the entirety of their season ticket up front and receiving refunds on a match-by-match basis for behind-closed-door games, in return for being entered into ballots for any reduced capacity games.
The other option allows supporters to pay 30 per cent of their season ticket up front, but only allows them into a ballot for seats when 70 per cent or more of the stadium is reopened to supporters.
A statement from the WHUISA read, according to the Telegraph: “WHUISA is disheartened with how the season ticket renewal process has been carried out to date and question how reflective of current circumstances, both health-wise and financially, the decisions made, to date, have been.
“Whilst WHUISA has been assured other options are being considered we have been contacted by many members who are confused, aware the final date for renewal is coming up and are still unsure or unclear of their options, many are feeling panicked and pressured into making a decision when the future around supporters returning to games is unclear.
“The whole process around season ticket renewal combined with those affected by the reconfiguration needs to be urgently addressed.”
Meanwhile, Hammers United released their own statement, which called the club’s approach to season ticket renewal in the current climate “extremely disappointing.”
It added: “We are trying to work with the club in an effort to improve things, but our tabled suggestions focused on improving communication on this and other matters, urging the club to consider its social responsibility as well as its commercial objectives and to make specific provision for our financially challenged and older supporters are yet to be implemented.
“We’re advised work continues behind the scenes and these proposals and others are under consideration, but our members want answers now and feel pressured without them, believing they have no option but to make a a financial commitment, in many cases having to borrow money to fulfil it, without anybody really knowing what the future actually holds.”
The supporters’ group also highlighted how West Ham’s plans to increase capacity at London Stadium have seen people’s seats changed without consultation.
Hammers United concluded: “This is no way to treat loyal, time served fans, who season in season out financially and emotionally support the team. It makes the club look detached from its supporters and behind the times, which of course leads to protest. They could and should be doing a lot better here.”