West Ham bosses seek police presence

West Ham skipper Mark Noble clashes with a fan who invaded the pitch on Saturday. Noble told British media that tensions have been rising among the club's supporters since the switch from Upton Park.
West Ham skipper Mark Noble clashes with a fan who invaded the pitch on Saturday. Noble told British media that tensions have been rising among the club's supporters since the switch from Upton Park.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan will be protected by a fortified London Stadium and a police presence to help prevent a repeat of the scenes that marred Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Burnley.

The club met their stadium partners yesterday and building work will take place to prevent home supporters from being able to congregate in front of the directors' box to vent their anger with chants of "sack the board" and "you killed our club" and throw missiles, as they did at the weekend.

Sullivan was also struck by a coin and the unruly scenes forced him to call for an emergency meeting immediately after the loss, their fourth in five league matches, leaving them three points above the drop zone in 16th position, with eight games left in the campaign.

Gold was said to have been shaken and the pair left the ground nearly three hours after the game.

They had been advised to leave their box before the final whistle, when hundreds of home fans overpowered stewards stationed on an external concourse and hurled abuse while a female senior steward suffered a concussion after being pushed to the ground.

The Premier League club will request that London police are stationed inside the ground for the final five home games of this campaign, for the first time since they were asked to help combat the trouble last season.

The Hammers will ban the fans who ran onto the pitch in four invasions before attacking stewards, and a report of the events has been requested by both the Football Association and the league.

"The FA strongly condemns the crowd disturbances seen at West Ham v Burnley, and will be seeking observations from West Ham as well as awaiting the referee's report," said an FA spokesman.

Former West Ham midfielder Trevor Brooking said that he was horrified. "It was sometimes going back to the bad, old days of 20-25 years ago," he said.

Brooking also appealed to supporters to stay away from home games as their presence was making the ground toxic.

"Just don't come to the games at the moment until you try to allow the players to get the points to stay up," he told BBC Radio 5.

"There is no way the team is going to play and get the points to stay up under that sort of atmosphere. That atmosphere must never come back... otherwise the club is in serious trouble and the players won't be able to deliver."

West Ham could be hit with a heavy fine or even forced to play matches behind closed doors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2018, with the headline 'West Ham bosses seek police presence'. Print Edition | Subscribe