Are State Aid Utd getting into trouble? The difficulty with a new stadium you ain’t paid for.

By Tony Attwood

The club formally known as West Ham United have got for free (or as near as damn it when compared with the cost of the Emirates) a stadium.  It has a 60,000 capacity, compared with the 35,000 capacity of Upton Park.

They had a bit of teething trouble – some of the seats hadn’t been put in for the first game, but well, shit happens.

They had a bit of a problem in their game last season against Man U as well, with one of the chair people proclaiming that ‘there was no attack on the coach‘ after some West Ham fans attacked the coach carrying Man U players.   When they finally got around to admitting reality was, well, reality, there was talk of life bans for fans involved.  I just typed “fans banned after attack on man u bus” into Google, and there are loads of articles promising a banning of fans – but so far I haven’t found details of the banning orders.  I am sure they are somewhere, if only I knew where to look.

Anyway, while waiting for a public pronouncement on those banning orders, we now hear that State Aid Utd have now issues ANOTHER threat having said they would hand out life bans to “any supporters found to have been involved in crowd trouble during their defeat by Watford” (the Guardian).

Various sources say that quite a few fans were ejected from the London Stadium after fights broke out in the closing stages as “West Ham supporters fought among themselves and clashed with stewards and visiting fans in what was just the club’s second Premier League game at their new home”.

A club statement read: “West Ham unreservedly condemns the behaviour of the individuals involved in incidents during today’s fixture. While these isolated incidents were quickly brought under control, this behaviour has no place in football and West Ham will work tirelessly to eradicate it. We are currently undertaking an immediate full review with all stakeholders … Our policy on this behaviour remains one of zero tolerance and we will work with the police to identify individuals involved.

“Once identified, they will be banned from attending any West Ham fixture for life and we will request the courts serve banning orders to prevent these individuals attending any football.”

So we now wait for the outcome of two banning issues – the attack on the Man U bus and the fighting in the stadium.

Slaven Bilic said, “I’ve been told about it, and I asked what riot? I really didn’t see anything.”  Which is fair enough, it is his job to worry about results.

Now we have been down this road before, looking at what happens to clubs after they get a new stadium.  In case you missed an earlier piece on the subject here is a list…

Stadium Club Built Promotion/Relegation
Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough 1995 Relegated 1997
Britannia Stadium Stoke City 1997 Relegated 1998
Reebok Stadium Bolton Wanderers 1997 Relegated 1998
Pride Park Stadium Derby County 1997 Relegated 2002
Stadium of Light Sunderland 1997 Relegated 1997
Madejski Stadium Reading 1998 Releg to D3 ’98
JJB Stadium Wigan Athletic 1999 Won D3 2003
St Mary’s Stadium Southampton 2001 Relegated 2005
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Prom from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004, returned to win league 2016.
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 Won League 2012
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Top 4 throughout
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012, but relegated again.

So will State Aid Utd face the same problems as the majority, or will they be able to do an Arsenal?   Questions of course have been raised about the financing, and during this time the issue of the impact of moving has rather been overlooked.  Where it has been focussed on, it has been assumed that the inevitable decline in money available for players has been the reason for the relegations and of course the reverse applies here.

For State Aid Utd have famously only rented the stadium for 25 days a year, hence the negligible costs. So surely they should be able to avoid the apocalypse of the new stadium that so many teams have suffered.

Certainly their behaviour – including the donation of £12,500 to the Conservative Party after they got the contract at such a low price – suggests they entered the stadium in bullish mood, joyful at their ability to get such a deal from the highly right honourable Boris Johnson MP.  The subsequent defeat to Astra Giurgiu of the Romanian league which knocked them out of the Europa League in August was shrugged off.  The fact that that club has a capacity of only 8500 in its ground suggests that maybe it was more of a dent that has been admitted.

Out of the Europa and one place above the relegation spots was perhaps not what they club had in mind when it gave all that money to the Tory Party.  This is the table before Sunday’s games.

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
17 West Ham United 4 1 0 3 5 9 -4 3
18 Southampton 4 0 2 2 3 6 -3 2
19 Sunderland 3 0 1 2 3 5 -2 1
20 Stoke City 4 0 1 3 2 10 -8 1

It seems extraordinary that State Aid Utd have made such a poor start to the season having fallen into a situation in which most of the £701m spent on the stadium has come from those of us unfortunate enough to be tax payers in the UK.

But the trouble is the trouble.   If they keep getting crowd trouble, interest will decline (although the club has sold a higher percentage of its seats as season tickets this year than any other Premier League club and so already has the money for the season).   But even with a half empty stadium in the Championship West Ham will keep all their ticket revenue while other income streams are shared.

The London Legacy Development Corporation probably considered it had done a decent job in letting State Aid have the stadium, especially as the deal includes performance-related bonuses that guarantee, for example, an extra £100,000 if West Ham finish 10th.

And of course just as the club might climb up the league, the attacks on an arriving club bus, and the rioting between supporters might stop, the club might settle down and they might get a mid-place finish.

For as the Guardian said at the time, “It is difficult to disagree with Arsène Wenger when the Arsenal manager said inheriting the stadium was like “winning the lottery”.”

Gold and Sullivan have both said that they have no intention of selling the club.  If the club were sold for £250m within the first five years of the move, the LLDC would receive £12m. Barry Hearn of Leyton Orient said his dog could have negotiated a better deal for the taxpayer.  That seems likely even without seeing Mr Hearn’s dog’s pedigree.

But still we have this strange “new stadium” effect.  A new stadium ought to give the club a lift but as Middlesbrough, Stoke, Bolton, Derby, Sunderland, Reading, Southampton and Leicester found out, relegation is what can follow.  Ultimately it could be that inter-Hammer fighting and attacks on buses could be the least of the club’s worries.

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39 Replies to “Are State Aid Utd getting into trouble? The difficulty with a new stadium you ain’t paid for.”

  1. I saw the London Stadium in it’s new football guise for the first time on MOTD and don’t think much of it as a football stadium. The crowd are far too distant from the play (perhaps a health & safety bonus considering the coin throwing) and there didn’t appear to be a full house anyway which contributed to the poor atmosphere.
    Never liked the West Ham so called supporters, especially so after the dreadful racist barracking of Paul Ince after he joined Man U.
    It wont take them long to fuck it up.

  2. I like this site but digging out West Ham over the stadium’s petty. They had a result, good luck to them.

  3. Mick

    I agree with you on most things but not this.

    It’s not just about them getting a ‘result’ is it really?

    A Billionaire dropping in and building them a Stadium is ‘getting a result’.

    But that’s not what happened is it, it’s yours and MY money that they got the ‘result’ with, and I don’t know about you but I seriously begrudge them it.

    What happened was wrong, very wrong, and as such I think it should not be allowed to just drop.

    In fact I think ‘digging out’ West Ham should be made a National pastime.

    Just my thoughts on it.

    Moving on. Did you see the despicable Costa getting up to his usual tricks, and more importantly hear the equally despicable commentators loving every minute of it?

  4. Jambug
    Mick at 5.58pm is not me (so to speak), he is a different Mick.

    Mick 5.58pm
    Mick, why don’t you use a lower case m so we can be told apart.

  5. I made a query about the game report after the game. Walter wrote in to say he was in Spain having a break.

    I hope he isn’t getting sunburned. But, maybe he is stocking up on chorizo?

    Hmm, someone thinking Costa was brilliant. Do you stop at accident sites hoping to watch blood dripping off bodies? Do you live in Stoke?

  6. @Gord, no I don’t live in Stoke, Costa had everything today., detest him cos of who he plays for, II get that, but don’t you think he was nearly unplayable?

  7. Fair enough.

    Sorry, not watching TV (writing code).

    Was Costa unplayable because he excluded people from his immediate vicinity by threat or presence of illegal methods, or because the referee wouldn’t allow any to get close to him?

  8. Oh, Metro had an article comparing Koscielny’s overhead goal to Costa’s. How I read it, most preferred Koscielny’s.

  9. Dear Gord as you always ask for evidence on this site perhaps someone( maybe you as your so enlightened ) could show some to support the never ending abuse towards the people who live in Stoke. They have been called Neanderthal, Scum, Lowlife etc do you even know where Stoke is? Evidence please! And please don’t mention the song’s about Ramsey because I have heard worse from our own fan’s such as concentration camps, airplanes crashing and even chants about Spurs fan’s dying perhaps you should have gone on to the Stoke fans forum and read some of the post’s from horrified decent people who live there so please share your “evidence ” I await with baited breath

  10. From the little I’ve read on today’s game Costa didn’t have everything – he missed out on the red card!! 😉

  11. Yes, aggressive, defenders nightmare…. but ok, not dirty in my opinion. Koscieiny’s overhead was great,, not sure of your point, mine is we need to play with some attitude,

  12. Thinks SOME West Ham fans are having trouble with the cultural shift of stadia…..not being allowed to stand, and other frustrations.
    But SOME of them are just a bit vicious.

  13. No thanks Klis. I like sporting footballers. Dirty cheats are not my type of sporting icons. I would not like my off spring to behave in their crude way. Costa, Jose, Rooney – all had a bad up bringing. Make a lot of money but then so does Green & BHS. Pele, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Denis Bergkamp – those are sporting icons.

  14. @menance, agree with your general point, but for example theo could do with a little toughing up, don’t you think…Veria knew how to win a battle…

  15. Paul Ince was barracked because he wore a Man Utd shirt, while still a West Ham player. Fat Frank Lampard got the same treatment & he was white the last time I looked.

  16. Was the booing of Ashley Cole racist then? Ince was wasn’t given a friendly welcome because he was pictured wearing a Man Utd shirt whilst still a West Ham player.Frank La
    mpard was also treated the same after engineering a move to Chelsea.

  17. Barry Hearns dog….I would imagine this deal is more in line with what Arry Redknapps dog would negotiate for the benefit of the taxpayer.
    Wenger said this London stadium deal was like winning the lottery…..can see why he said that , not all lottery wins have happy endings

  18. Bloggs

    I am very willing to use maps, so yes I can find Stoke. Do I live in the UK? No.

    I live in probably the most redneck province of Canada (Alberta). Or rather, I have lived in Alberta most of my life, and I currently live about 20 miles from the AB/BC border.

    The question to me, is how can a person rate cities in the UK which have professional football teams as to how neanderthal the general population is (attitude, not necessarily genetics).

    To me, this seems to be similar to how redneck Alberta is. Or Idaho, or many southern USA states.

    One particular redneck survey in the USA, looked at local:
    _1. Number of gun and ammo stores
    _2. Number of cowboy boot stores.
    _3. Number of taxidermy shops.
    _4. Number of Walmart stores.
    _5. Number of NASCAR tracks.
    _6. Number of country radio stations.
    _7. Percentage of population that didn’t complete high school.
    _8. Other stuff not mentioned.

    Three of those seem to look at guns directly, and at least 1 more indirectly.

    My feeling is that “guns” is not a good indicator of being Neanderthal in England. England doesn’t have NASCAR, and I don’t think it has much in the way of Walmart stores or country radio stations.

    What measures would you propose we look at?

  19. Man City have/had a similar deal on their Stadium which was paid for by Sport England (Lottery funded) & Manchester City council. BTW their stadium was built purposely with football in mind. As Opposed to the London Olympic Stadium which Lord Coe wanted athletics only (He later backtracked) If he (Coe) /Ken Livingstone & all stakeholders would have made the right decision & built the OS with football in mind.This debacle could have been avoided & a lot of money saved. West Ham were the only viable option, otherwise it would be mothballed as many former Olympic stadiums are.

  20. Bloggs
    Why the anti-Stoke feeling it’s only our support for Ramsey.
    You know the player who had the bare face cheek to have his leg broke by serial leg breaker and all round nice guy Ryan Shawcross.
    Oh and Stoke fans booing home every time he is fit to in Stoke.

  21. Gord,
    Nicely put there Gord. Our good ol’ Canadian buddy, guy, friend.
    (I wonder how many got my South Park reference)

  22. John
    It makes no difference what Ince was or was not wearing at any stage of his life. My point was he was “racially barracked”, the key words being “racially” & “barracked.” Cole & Lampard were not racially abused (as far as I know) so why even bring this up. Most returning transfers get booed anyway, but not in the way that Ince was.
    I’d also add that Hammers manger at that time (Billy Bonds) had a golden opportunity to condemn this on live TV, but copped out by saying he didn’t want to comment on it. Not ironic that he eventually went to Millwall.

  23. Gord so glad you cleared that up????? What the hell are you on about? What has your apparent racism got to do with rednecks and guns? We were talking about a city in the English county of Staffordshire so again please give facts and figures to support your ramblings. I know well over 40 people from Stoke been there out partying with the locals they are good honest working class people whose knuckles don’t drag along the floor sell drugs knife people or eat their children! So that’s my part evidence can you now give yours
    I also find it insulting when other nationals who have no experience of a place have the gall to abuse part of a country.

  24. Bloggs
    re your last paragraph. I’ve brought this issue of distance supporters criticising UK media etc previously on Untold and been really slagged over it.
    Problem being that most of the commenters here are from around the world and have no idea of our culture.
    It doesn’t help that blogger is a bit of a disestablishmentarian.

  25. Leon, Bloggs you will be pleased to know that many overseas commenters know more about your culture than you. That is because of good education & the BBC overseas service.

    Gord rightly criticizes Stoke (the football team & its supporters) & Bloggs makes it a wider criticism. Stoke will hopefully get relegated this season so their disrespectful chanting will no longer be something Arsenal will have to endure. They are the most disgusting unsporting bunch of scum that football has had to endure in the last decade.

  26. Menace do you really believe what you are saying? You and others on here constantly lament the media as liars and drunken vagabonds but now have the affront to state that they are a reliable source of education get real and I doubt any “overseas person ” knows more about my culture unless you have that beloved evidence you crave. By the way I have never been a fan of the way Stoke play football but to call all their supporters a bunch of scum just goes to prove what a moron you must be. In your opinion Steve Bould Lee Dixon Mark Chamberlain are all scum plus Frank Bough Nick Hancock Jeremy Bates etc as well !!!! Pathetic really pathetic

  27. Menace by the way I never made it a wider issue because the original statement cast aspersions upon an area of the UK without any evidence

  28. Leon where is your evidence for ‘racial barracking’ of Paul Ince.Was you there? I was. The abuse was booing & homophobic which i dont condone) not racist!
    Ince’s act of wearing another teams shirt was a big deal then.He later played a game vs Stoke City (was there too) disinterested with his hands on hips. It didnt bother me but a majority of supporters saw it as a act of betrayal.
    I mentioned Lampard because he received dogs abuse the same as Ince. They both left the club in a underhand way.
    You seem to want there to be a racist angle on this, even implicating Billy Bonds & Millwall.
    You obviously dislike all things West Ham Judged by your 1st comment. Please deal in facts.

  29. People are standing up blocking the view of people sitting down. That is the cause of this ‘shameful’ behaviour. Crap/clueless stewards also add to the problem…But wait for it : No proper segregation between rival supporters in or outside ground. I wouldn’t visit the place until all these problems are addressed. Thats me personally & rival supporters

  30. Im not in denial, there was huge racism at football matches, at virtually all grounds in th 70s & 80s. What im saying the vast majority of the crowd wasn’t hurling racial abuse at Ince.
    I followed West ham in the 80s & 90s & not ONCE did I hear a chorus of racial abuse. Obviously there were a few village idiots as there is in all society.
    If your looking for a right wing club in the 80s Chelsea is your club.They booed their own player Paul Canonville. I went to a game v Chelsea in 85 where George Parris was given terrible abuse.Animal chanting im sure you know what I mean.
    Paul Ince was heavily booed

  31. John
    I’m a bit late getting back on this, sorry ’bout that.
    You are probably right in saying that there was nothing racist in the abuse of Ince on that day ( and I will always defer to someone who actually attended a match), but on TV I could swear I heard “you black poof”. But might have been something else.

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