Despite the general and near if not unanimous hate for Karren Brady and her role at West Ham, the vice-chairman is actually defending the club well in ‘project restart’ debate.
Hate her or… well hate her more, Karren Brady is stepping up and finally using her media influence for the good at West Ham. Amidst the uncertainty during the coronavirus hiatus and plans for project restart for the Premier League, Brady is championing the cause of the Hammers’ willingness to play football again, but with strings attached.
Across the Guardian and now The Sun (Brady’s affiliated news outlet), Brady has gone on record stating that a restart of the Premier League could and should happen, but with safety still at the top of discussion for the league.
In her Sun article, she states that her meeting with the players was to reassure them “our board will not ask them to do anything we would not ask of our own children or family.” A fine sentiment, but one that will certainly be stretched if the government gives the Prem the go-ahead to start up training again in the coming week.
While reassurance that West Ham will not skip any steps in the progressive steps toward a Premier League restart, Brady’s actual defence of the Hammers came in her audible objection to relegation of any kind, restart in play or not.
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West Ham are currently 16th in the table, but level on points with 18th place Bournemouth (and 19th Watford, too), safe on +3 goal differential. In a different season, 16th may have been safer, but relegation is still a very real threat to the Hammers team.
So, why should West Ham give up home pitch advantage to play at a neutral venue? Even without supporters in the stands, there is still the comfort and familiarity of playing in the home dressing room at YOUR stadium. Brady is right to object to this proposed part of the restart plan.
“Clubs on the brink are understandably concerned about giving up home advantage, let alone playing without their vital 12th man — their supporters. The will to play is the essence of every club and player but they want a level playing field.”
More importantly, playing a partially completed campaign with no supporters for a club like West Ham is a worst-case scenario. The passion the supporters bring is unparalleled, especially at away matches, and Brady is again right to call them the 12th man and object to this proposal to with relegation on the table.
Wisely, Brady has framed her and the bottom-6’s case for a no-relegation season playout around the idea of compromise. For the top-6 and teams battling for places higher up the table for a title, European competition, or bigger cash earnings playing the games is essential. For the teams who are threatened by relegation, it is a much smaller priority when safety (both on and off the pitch) isn’t guaranteed.
Many will argue there is no time to talk about football restarting while the pandemic still impacts so many people in England and the world. To these people I agree with the sentiment; while football isn’t a life-or-death industry in a time like this, normalcy and culture returning to life will be welcomed, even if it is a televised event.
Brady has actually done well in recent days summing up the desire to continue playing football this season but with concessions required at both ends of the table. She may infuriate the masses of Hammers supporters regularly, but in this instance, she’s done well and not left our club embarrassed in the media.