At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.Maya Angelou
TODAY’S news that a West Ham supporter has been banned for the rest of the season for wearing a “GSB OUT” t-shirt while acting as a volunteer flag waver is merely the latest in a seemingly daily act of reckless self-harm by the board.
Leaving aside issues of what supporters might have been “incited” to do (nobody did anything), who suffered “annoyance” outside of the Director’s Box and what a “seasonal” ban involves (does the accused need to wait until the runner beans come up in David Gold’s garden?) we are made aware once again West Ham fans have no “say” in the running of the club. Furthermore, the letter is a fairly explicit warning to any other fan intent upon protest within a ground.
In tone and content, the letter is characteristic of the aggressive and adversarial stance Vice-Chair Karren Brady takes towards all supporter issues. As David Sullivan leaves her to deal with all non-football matters while he gets on with fucking up the playing side we can safely assume the letter dropped from her desk. Even if she employed underlings to sign it.
As the former Birmingham executive was paid £1.136million in the year to 2019 for a part-time job it seems as good a time as any to examine her worth to the club. First, a list of her achievements:
1. She won the Olympic Stadium bid.
3. That’s it.
In all fairness, that isn’t Brady’s only impact on the club and it is a matter of record that with West Ham having Newham Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation over a barrel as the only serious bidder for the ground she did gain possession of the metaphorical ball and slam it in top bins From all of two yards out.
Two days ago, in a spectacular own goal the club and Brady wrung a grovelling apology from Sky Sports Sunday Supplement for airing a show that including journalist guests running the club down. The phrase “HANDS IN THE TILL” uttered by Guardian columnist Jonathan Liew caused particular offence. On this occasion we are going to agree with the club and reassert the phrase “HANDS IN THE TILL” should never have been used. Although quite what the club think they gained by making a story of the “HANDS IN THE TILL” line is open to debate. Especially when they were taking to task a company that pays them over a million pounds per annum.
It was Brady who was charged with organising the migration from Upton Park to the renamed London Stadium. In a display of typical cackhandedness, she made her overarching priority filling the stadium with no thought for ambience and no reference to the wider football world. Her “plus two” ticket scheme and lack of a family enclosure or singing section (we accept not all fans wanted this) were at least in part responsible for the dismal atmosphere that pervades the wretched place and this blogger being surrounded by Liverpool supporters in the home end for the recent Hammers game against the Merseysiders.
The less said about Brady’s controversial and confrontational attempt at a supporters’ group the better. The Official Supporters Board aren’t transparent, democratic or independent and have no mandate. They serve nobody except the Vice Chair herself. Meanwhile, every Saturday she seeks to humiliate and bring reputational harm upon the club with a ludicrous column in The Sun newspaper. Despite being refused a prospective player from Leicester as a result of her witterings she point blank refuses to give it up even though Co-Chair Sullivan is known to be against the idea. As ever, fans have no access to free speech while Karren smashes us all about the head with hers.
Typical of Brady’s intransigence was her refusal to give up a business relationship (yet another outside job) with disgraced mogul Sir Philip Green even when the accusations of sexual and racial abuse by the latter grew. Upon resigning, the hypocrisy of her campaign for “strong female leadership” was laid bare as she refused to either condemn Green or even explain why she had left. Likewise her role on the BBC’s The Apprentice has, it is rumoured, come into direct conflict with her job at West Ham.
Perhaps most pernicious is the atmosphere she engenders within the club which sees its ultimate expression in their treatment of the media. Not content with alienating her “customers” (we call ourselves fans Karren) journalists are routinely harassed by Media Head Ben Campbell. It is said one was recently “banned” for a month from covering the club for a minor transgression (not to mention KUMB Graeme Howlett having his press pass rescinded). What Brady and Campbell forget is West Ham are not one of the big six clubs, and have nowhere near enough political clout to seek to control the narrative in the manner they wish. It is no small measure a result of this high-handed attitude that journos are now sticking the boot into the club with some glee.
West Ham lack strategy, appearing to prefer picking fights instead, with Brady’s personality a direct driver. Although she may act as a lightning rod, deflecting attention away from Sullivan, he might do a lot worse than offer her up as a sacrificial lamb to angry fans and sack her. What have you got to lose David?