Karren Brady spat at by West Ham fans and demands police presence at London Stadium
Karren Brady was spat at by West Ham United fans as part of the angry clashes during the defeat to Watford that have prompted her to demand police are deployed inside the club’s new London Stadium for future games.
West Ham’s move to the new stadium has been marred by in-fighting between the club’s supporters, insufficient segregation between home and away fans and complaints over the stewarding.
Vice-chairman Brady will meet with the operators of the London Stadium, LS185, on Tuesday with both parties ready to agree to deploy police inside the ground for all forthcoming games, subject to approval from the Metropolitan Police Service.
West Ham and LS185 have also been asked to draw up a report for Newham Council’s Safety Advisory Group on the issues that arose at Saturday’s game and outline what action will be taken to prevent future incidents.
Brady will be able to draw on her own experience during the talks aimed at solving the worrying disorder problems after being targeted by West Ham supporters who blame her for the move away from Upton Park and the resulting fall-out.
One of the sons of co-owner David Sullivan tweeted that an unnamed board member was spat at and others verbally abused during the 4-2 defeat to Watford while stewards stood by and did nothing.
Telegraph Sport understands it was Brady who received a mouthful of phlegm on her new suit, prompting the tweet from David Sullivan Jnr that read: “Don’t think fans are alone with poor stewarding. We were being verbally abused by our fans while stewards stood and did nothing. One board member was even spat on by fans.”
Brady was responsible for securing the London Stadium for West Ham and pushed through the move, which has made her a target for fans who wanted to stay at Upton Park.
There were no police inside the London Stadium for West Ham’s first two Premier League home games against Bournemouth and Watford as LS185 did not deem either match a security risk.
The Watford game was made a category A (low risk) event by the Metropolitan Police Service and the safety plan was agreed before the game by the Safety Advisory Group Officials at the stadium operators admit they did not foresee in-fighting as being a problem and they will agree to West Ham’s request to put a police presence inside the stadium for future games, as long as it is supported by the police.
That should start against Accrington Stanley in the League Cup on September 21 and there will be greater segregation between home and away fans with the ‘sterile area’ being extended from just three rows.
The Hammers are also considering granting the requests of fans, particularly those with young children, to move to a different part of the stadium if they are unhappy with their current seats and the behaviour of those around them.
But West Ham will not be given the opportunity to fully take control of the stewarding inside the London Stadium during Tuesday’s meeting, as LS185 are confident they can resolve that particular problem in partnership with the club.
West Ham and LS185 will have to report into Newham Council, for whom a spokesperson said: “The Safety Advisory Group has called on the Stadium operators LS185 and West Ham United for a report into the issues that occurred at the game on Saturday.
“They will also be asked to outline to the Group - which includes LS185, the council, the club and emergency services – ahead of the next home game, the additional steps they will be seeking to take to prevent them happening again.”
Officials working for LS185 believe some of the criticism of the stewarding has been unfair and are adamant they have enough experience and know-how in their ranks to take care of football matches.
A high number of the 700 stewards on duty for the Watford game in which trouble broke out were recruited from Upton Park and all of them are either qualified or working towards gaining their qualification. Some stewards were seen filming incidents of bad behaviour on their mobile phones and LS185 insist such behaviour is prohibited and will be dealt with.
A statement from LS185 said: “London Stadium have identified a number of supporters involved in incidents of disorder during Saturday's Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford. “Our stewards and response teams were called to address isolated instances of violent confrontation which resulted in 10 supporters being ejected from the stadium and three handed to police.
“In line with our safety and security policies, these supporters will be banned from all stadium events. In addition, we will continue to review CCTV footage and take retrospective action where necessary. Any evidence of crime and disorder will be passed to the police.
“As part of our review process, we will be taking steps to strengthen the segregation measures between home and away supporters. In-fighting amongst home supporters has also given us cause for concern and we will continue to work closely with West Ham United to identify and take action against the small number of supporters found to be responsible for these incidents.
“We remain determined to ensure that all supporters can enjoy the best possible matchday experience in a safe and secure environment and fully support West Ham’s efforts to migrate supporters attending in family groups to dedicated sections.”
Brady, Sullivan and David Gold have already sent out letters calling for unity among supporters and positive behaviour. West Ham have promised life bans for any identified supporters caught fighting and have threatened to withdraw season tickets from others who continue to stand, which has promoted some of the fighting.