Signs of change at football
West Ham have always been one of London’s most traditional and authentic clubs. Hammers fans will notice that in the last twenty years, football as a brand has been placed right at the heart of British popular culture – a big step from the 80s and early 90s where football’s hold on the wider British public seemed to be dwindling.
This has meant a global TV audience with much more live coverage of games and a more vibrant football media to serve an educated public. It has also meant rising ticket prices and an array of out of touch billionaire owners who’ve put a sense of distance between fans and the club.
West Ham fans will know all about the chasm between fans and the board, most notably at the time during the Bond Scheme in the mid-90s where fans were asked to pay to guarantee their seats.
Perhaps in modern times the fans could have made their feelings known using forums, social media, and leafleting campaigns but the medium wasn’t as prevalent back then. Companies like instantprint can now print leaflets and posters to build the profile of causes.
The price of away game tickets is one cause that has been grasped by social media and fans forums, and it appears that clubs are being forced to respond to fans who feel that they’re being fleeced by greedy away teams.
Billionaire owners have taken the games on with little regard for heritage. We can see this at clubs like Cardiff who have ditched their traditional blue colours, and Hull who are subject to a prospective name change. The future of the game is dependent on these wealthy owners recognising that football isn’t a normal business, but rather one where the clubs are an integral part of the local community.
There are few places that this is more apparent than traditional clubs like West Ham, Cardiff and Newcastle. The Upton Park terraces have witnessed some of football’s most legendary names in Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking, as well as terrace favourites such as Julian Dicks, Paulo Di Canio and Mark Noble. Perhaps in days of yore, all of these players would have seen many more posters with their images portrayed as a stamp of club identity.
In recent years, we’ve seen fans use posters and banners to support their clubs and players, as well as to protest. Terrace chants may not be as original or humorous as they once were in favour of a general leaning towards the methods mentioned earlier such as social media, forums, and banners.