Hammers United: The West Ham Fan Group Pushing For Real Change

Hammers United, West Ham Fan Group. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Hammers United, West Ham Fan Group. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images) /

Hammers United have been one of the main voices behind the #GSBout campaign and want to see new owners at West Ham soon.

Since the move to the London Stadium many West Ham fans have felt that the promises of the board have not been fulfilled. Fans were promised ‘next level’ but instead have faced relegation battles in the majority of seasons at the new ground.

One group has been formed with the mission of producing major change at West Ham. Hammers United is a West Ham Fan Group keen to pressure the current board of the club into making improvements from top to bottom.

GSH reached out to Hammers United and spoke to Chairman Paul Colbourne to get a further understanding of the group and their aims. We asked Paul some questions and the group and here are his answers.

This was going to be formed into a shorter article. I thought, however, it would be best to leave as a Q&A form article.

What is Hammers United Mission Statement?

PC: We aim to engage the Club’s Board in meaningful discussion aimed at improving all things related to supporting this great club of ours.

The whole matchday experience at The London Stadium needs massive improvement.

We will also seek discussion on other matters important to Supporters such as ticketing, pricing, mascots, stewarding, memorial gardens, facilities for disabled supporters, Champion Place stones, Club Heritage. Indeed on any matters of concern raised by our members.

We will encourage the Club’s Board to sanction substantial investment in the Club’s playing squad to give West Ham United the best possible chance of success on the pitch.

  • We are a non-political group, our sole interest is the supporters of West Ham United.
  • This is not a protest group. It would be great if the Board delivered on all fronts, however, should they not deliver then we need to be organised and both ready and able to challenge them if the need arises.

This may be updated when we collate the results of our forthcoming survey.

What was the catalyst behind to start the movement?

PC: We had been planning a meeting to discuss forming a new fans group and to be honest probably launched a little early. The catalyst was when my friend Lee Rogers phoned West ham to renew his season ticket. It had always been band 2 so Lee had his credit card in hand expecting to pay the band 2 price.

The member of staff informed him that his seat had been moved to band 1 and the price upped accordingly. We felt this was underhand, summing up the shabby way West Ham treated its supporters, and that we had to rally the fans and improve things as soon as possible.

What other factors contributed to the formation of Hammers United.

PC: The main factor was the appalling botched stadium move on the back of aspirations of a ‘world-class team for a world-class stadium’!

The team was not world-class. We never expected it to be, but we expected better than what we were being served up. As for the stadium, well the soulless bowl is such a nightmare I don’t know where to start, and in truth could probably write a whole book on how bad it is.

Terrible stewarding, hundreds of supporters banned, many not allowed access to CCTV ‘evidence’ nor granted the right of appeal. Away fans openly sitting in West Ham sections of the ground. Season ticket waiting list with no transparency and no apparent order. Seats in the stadium far further away from the pitch than we had expected. Difficulties for disabled supporters getting to the stadium. Lollypop men with stop-go signs, huge queues at access points to the stadium. Overpriced food and drink.

West Ham fans.
West Ham fans. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) /

Communication between club and fans was virtually non-existent, customer service terrible.-What about the fiasco with the memorial gardens being left untended or the poor state of the memorial stones that supporters had paid good money for? Why did the club not take up full away ticket allocations?

Many say the Boleyn ground was sold off too cheaply, others say promises made to local businesses were not kept.

And all the time Baroness Brady aloof and uncaring towards our fans and our history and traditions.-Who can forget the night we got hammered at Highbury and the next morning’s newspaper with her article praising the cheeseboard and corporate facilities there. Add to this her embarrassing newspaper column and embarrassing leaks from the boardroom and I think we have a pretty good idea of why we formed Hammers United.

If I had more time I am sure I could add to the list. Basically, we felt that the current board were destroying all that we loved, particularly the match-day experience. Thousands of our fellow supporters had already walked away feeling disenchanted and alienated from the club that they had supported for many years, in some cases decades.

Most of them had supported the club further to their parents and grandparents before them. Lee Rogers, for example, had been at the 1975 and 1980 cup finals, his dad and uncles at the 1964 cup final and his granddad at the 1923 cup final.

West Ham 1980 Cup Final
West Ham 1980 Cup Final (Photo by David Ashdown/Getty Images) /

We could not stand by and let our club be destroyed. It was time to stop moaning and stand up and do something about it. Hammers United was formed in March 2019. We now have 17,200 members.

Would there ever be a situation in which you would accept the current ownership?

PC: Well, that would not be my shout, nor indeed a shout for our committee. The membership would decide. – Perhaps things are too far gone, perhaps the Board’s position is untenable-unretrievable.

Maybe If they liaised openly and genuinely with the fans groups and improved the stadium and the matchday experience. If they made a genuine attempt to understand the fans and what the fans want, and treated the fans with respect. Maybe if they apologised for not delivering, and created a proper vision and plan for West Ham United going forward, supporting it with the necessary investment. Perhaps then our members would accept them.

Has any owner ever had your backing?

PC: Whether or not we back the owners is decided by our membership. Hammers United was not around when the club was under other owners so the question is academic.

Personally, I believe that Reg Pratt did a lot of good in beginning our academy and creating the training ground at Chadwell Heath. I had no real issues with the Icelandics.

Eggert Magnusson former West Ham owner.
Eggert Magnusson former West Ham owner. (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Martin Cearns was behind the Bond Scheme and under the and Terry Brown we showed little ambition and it is argued by many that they were as big a shambles as the current owners. The proposed Bond Scheme saw an all-time low in supporter/board relations.-Until now, with the current board taking relations to an all-time low. Previous owners did not sell our ground and move us into a rented soulless bowl!!.

Does the phrase the grass is not always greener bother you?

PC: Not at all. If something is bad and needs changing one cannot leave it be on the basis that its replacement might be no better. That would be downright wrong. Hammers United may not have input into who future owners may be, we can only grease the wheels to ensure the current owners leave as soon as possible. We can ensure, however, the machinery is in place to ensure things improve and we do not have a repeat of the disastrous GSB tenure.

We have been working together with the other democratic West Ham fans groups and the Football Supporters Association towards a new Independent West Ham Supporters Board, for the fans and by the fans. This will replace the ineffective club constraint Official Supporters Board. We hope an inaugural meeting will be held early in the new year and have high hopes that this will see a meaningful dialogue between supporters groups and West Ham United, whoever it’s owners may be.

More from Green Street Hammers - West Ham

What would you say to people that support the current regime?

PC: It seems that very few do in fact support the current regime. However, we respect their view.

I would refer them to the recent comprehensive independent survey of West Ham Supporters in March (completed by 11,672) when only five-yes FIVE per cent said they felt the board were doing a good job. Please check out our Chairman’s View from Hammers United dated July 15th.

I would also remind them of GSB’s 10 point plan. The level of debt has of course since risen dramatically. Finally, I would remind them of David Sullivan’s interview on Talk-Sport, September 23rd.

Karren Brady’s statement WORLD-CLASS TEAM FOR A WORLD CLASS STADIUM also springs to mind, as does David Gold’s statement on the distance the seats would be from the pitch.-And what about Karren Brady’s statement ‘The most successful stadium migration in history!’

The Board have not delivered. It really is as simple as that.

Why should fans support Hammers United?

PC: Because we are professional, dedicated and hardworking, look to the future, and most of all BECAUSE WE CARE.

All our committee are ‘ordinary’ West Ham United supporters, some of whom have followed our team home and away for decades as in some cases did their parents and grandparents before them. Most of our committee are season ticket holders and 2 are away season ticket holders.

We are the largest West Ham Independent democratic supporters group and also the fastest growing. We are the only group to have successfully organised large scale protest. We had 8,500 on our ‘stroll’ down the Greenway, good-humoured and no arrests. We expected 12,000 plus on our next mass protest but unfortunately had to cancel because of COVID-19.

We have played a leading role in the formation of a new Independent Supporters board which we hope will have its inaugural meeting with the club early next year. We will be surveying our members very soon to form a vision of what West Ham fans want so this can be put both to the current owners and future owners. The same mistakes must not be allowed to happen again.

We are examining and understanding ‘the German model’ of fan involvement and engagement. Borussia Dortmund employ nine full-time staff in their Fans relations department, four dealing with match day issues and five dealing with the fans groups!

Is it possible to put the old soul back into West Ham at the London Stadium?

London Stadium, West Ham.
London Stadium, West Ham. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images ) /

PC: We will be pressing for an Independent financial and feasibility study into the possibility of completely reconfiguring the stadium. This may be financially beyond GSB but might be achieved by new owners.

If this does not prove possible then the club simply has to work with the fans to improve the stadium and the whole matchday experience. From when a supporter walks out of the station or from their car to when he or she takes their seat and then walks back to the station or car.

Our survey will tell us what the fans want- we must then to fight to achieve it!

West Ham fans are special. We had our own unique ‘brand’ and the club should have embraced this instead of discarding it. West Ham’s soul has been lost with 20,000 old school fans walking away. We have to reach out to them, rediscover OUR brand and OUR club and improve things to entice them back.

It will not be easy, but it can be done. With your help.

In a world where you could afford to buy the club & do whatever you want, what changes would you make? Such as a new stadium configuration, new fan outreach?

PC: The most important thing is to heal the rift between fans and owners and reach out to the thousands who have walked away. We would liaise and work with the fans groups to achieve a joint vision of what our club should be, and work with the fans to achieve it. We would work towards real fan representation on the Board.

My personal view is that West Ham United needs a complete overhaul from top to bottom.

The club needs a vision and a plan with short medium and long term aims. A complete overhaul of our scouting network and training facilities and of our Acadamy. We need a younger first-team squad, with emphasis made on homegrown talent and more players making it to the first team from the academy. We need two Premier League quality players for each position forming a balanced squad and if necessary funds must be made available to purchase players.

The team manager must be recruited in line with the club vision and given total control over player and coaching recruitment. – We must challenge as strongly as possible for both domestic cups and our short to medium term aspiration should be 7th or 8th place in the league with frequent cup runs.

David Moyes, West Ham.
David Moyes, West Ham. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

You specifically mention stadium reconfiguration and new fan outreach.

My personal view is that an independent financial and feasibility study should be made looking into possibilities of reconfiguring the stadium.

Regards new fan outreach I do believe that the club has tried to run before it can walk. We have thousands of new fans but at the same time have lost thousands of old school fans. Should the new fans stay and the old fans return then we would not be able to fit them all into the stadium.

The club must always outreach to potential new fans and seek growth but I do believe we need to slow down and seek a period of consolidation, winning back those who have walked away and at the same time integrating the new fans we already have. These of course are my personal views, Hammers United will be evaluating the results of its a forthcoming survey and formulate a vision and strategy accordingly.

Now some fans will be allowed back into stadiums will Hammers United be planning any events outside the ground.

PC: Of course we will!!

We have had a small (legal and safe) presence at all but one home game and have been at every away game.

We also organised a (legal and safe) deadline day protest at the training ground and a 10 point (legal and safe) protest remembering GSB’s 10 pledges.

We continue to work with our legal advisors who are experts in this field and are confident that we will soon be able to deliver mass protests.


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If you are one of the West Ham fans who are able to go to a match this season, expect to see Paul and Hammers United outside the ground and making their voiced heard.