I had hoped this argument would have subsided by now, but it still everywhere. All over twitter and in West Ham’s statements are arguments for and against standing. With no-one able to agree, what is the best course of action?
Let me start by clarifying some things. Firstly I am not a season ticket holder. Not because I don’t love West Ham, or I don’t like going to games, but because I’m moving. I will be in Australia from the middle of September, so a season ticket would have been a waste. However I know that my opinions on some of these things will therefore be discarded by some people.
I used to go to a lot of games in the old Bobby Moore Upper, and therefore they sat down. However some of my friends were in the Lower stands, who stood, here are my sides to the argument.
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The Case For Standing.
People enjoy doing it. For me that is the best argument there is. It creates a greats atmosphere and when the songs get going it really is great to be a part of it in any stadium.
The noisiest section of any stadium is always those that stand, and it is an undeniable part of the fabric of British football. Without these people we risk every stadium becoming like the Emirates. Or instigating singing sections like Old Trafford. These are artificial and not at all what I want at West Ham.
The standing areas at Upton Park had evolved over many years, and everyone there knew that they wanted to. These were people who had been there for years, the club was in their blood. Standing is part of supporting their club and that’s the way they want to be. All power to them.
The Case Against Standing
As mentioned before, I am used to not standing, and I would prefer to sit. That being said I find it unnatural to not stand for scoring chances, even when I watch at home!
As I have been in the Bobby Moore Lower for a few games this season I have accepted I will stand. That is because I can and I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experience who likes to stand. But there are those that don’t have that choice, and they shouldn’t miss out.
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If a kid or an elderly person ends up behind a group of people that stand, they instantly lose all of their experience of the game, and that is unfair. Because the club is not allowed to state areas as standing friendly, people will end up there. Especially in non-league games. From a purely logical point of view, it is better for people to sit and everyone be able to see the game, than it is for those who like to stand to stand and block some people’s view of it all.
West Ham’s point of view
The club are not allowed to condone standing. The stadium has an all seater liscence, and they’ve invested the future of the club in expanding it. They will not be able to do this if people continue to stand persistently. They are not banning standing outright, but they have to be seen to be tackling 90 minute standing.
Premier League rules state that any persistent standing can see the person banned. West Ham do not want to ban anyone. But they will view the cub’s future as more important than a few fans. Expanding from 57,000 to 66,000 is a big part of their plans. Those saying they don’t care are lucky enough to have tickets. Please think of those who miss out every week and don’t have season tickets. The more of our fans we can get in the better it is for all.
David Gold has been a strong supporter of safe standing in the past. He still does support it. But Premier League rules will not allow it. Maybe the Celtic section will change their mind? It’s shown that it can work, and that it really improves the atmosphere.
Since we can’t advertise standing areas, how about family areas? The implication being that outside of these areas are not for kids or elderly fans? That gives a big respite, whilst allowing standing areas to form naturally.
We are all West Ham fans, we need to help and not fight each other. Arguing amongst ourselves will not improve the atmosphere for anyone. If someone behind you can’t stand, sit but encourage them to get a ticket elsewhere. If you can stand and are behind people that stand, stand. And then next year/time look to move your seat. There is no need to get ugly.
The fact that there was a season ticket swap shut down by the Premier League is ridiculous. Even they should see that this is about improving the experience for everyone. Yet the Premier League puts pointless rules before the fans’ enjoyment.
But the long term solution has to be safe standing areas in the stadiums again. There is no reason to not do it as long as it is properly regulated. Ticketed and heavily stewarded to make sure there is no danger to the fans. In my eyes this is the only solution.