MARTIN SAMUEL - CHIEF SPORTS WRITER: For West Ham, this is an existential crisis. The club cannot turn backwards to Upton Park, and they cannot move forward at the London Stadium.

London Stadium is now the lightning rod for every West Ham complaint

For West Ham, this is an existential crisis. The club cannot turn backwards to their old home at Upton Park, they cannot move forward at the London Stadium with so much resentment and rancour dragging them down.

And so they remain, stranded, helpless, stuck in limbo unless they fall, unloved, out of the Premier League into a wilderness of their own making.

If West Ham drop there is no guarantee the club return quickly. Not in their present frame of mind. The divisions are too great, even between those purportedly on the same side.

West Ham are in crisis - they cannot return to Upton Park, or move on at the London Stadium

West Ham are in crisis – they cannot return to Upton Park, or move on at the London Stadium

The home defeat against Burnley descended into chaos with fan protests and pitch invasions

The home defeat against Burnley descended into chaos with fan protests and pitch invasions

Co-chairman David Sullivan dreamed of a family legacy, but things are turning nightmarish

Co-chairman David Sullivan dreamed of a family legacy, but things are turning nightmarish


Sack the board? For who? If West Ham’s directors could sack themselves this morning, they probably would. David Sullivan dreamed of a family legacy. On Saturday, his family were hurried away for their own safety.

Those at the top of the club were paralysed. Not by fear, as unpleasant as the previous day’s scenes were, but by powerlessness. There is no easy solution to this crisis, no fix that is not long term. Yet before West Ham consider where they will be in five or 10 years’ time, whether it is possible to modify or transform their ground purely for football purposes, they must get through this season, and specifically, the next match.

Right now, they do not even know if their stadium will be open to the public for the game with Southampton on March 31.

Fans want a change of ownership, but it is hard to see who will want to buy the club like this

Fans want a change of ownership, but it is hard to see who will want to buy the club like this

The Premier League want guarantees that the game will start, and finish, and while not in control of their own stadium security, these are not assurances the club feel able to give. Scenes in the West Ham boardroom at the weekend revealed the extent of the anguish felt with joint-owner David Gold visibly upset at what he had seen, particularly as the game had been attended by his granddaughter, who was also in tears.

A senior policeman will be appointed to head the investigation into the disturbances, and particularly the inadequate response of the security forces.

On Sunday, co-owner Sullivan continued to engage with fans over email but the club are increasingly at a loss to know how to appease supporters beyond these rudimentary tactics.

West Ham hero Sir Trevor Brooking watches the scenes unfold on Saturday afternoon

West Ham hero Sir Trevor Brooking watches the scenes unfold on Saturday afternoon

Long term, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham may hold the key to West Ham’s future at the London Stadium, if athletics can be persuaded to make the 50,000-seat revamped Alexander Stadium its home, freeing West Ham from the straitjacket of an athletics track and a stadium that is an awkward fit for football.

Karren Brady, the chief executive credited with getting ‘the deal of the century’ – although that accolade may have been awarded prematurely given the fallout when she took West Ham to the Olympic Stadium – will need all of her negotiating skills if she is to relocate athletics to Birmingham on West Ham’s behalf.

Yet, even if she is successful, the Commonwealth Games are not due to take place until 2022, meaning it could be five years or more before West Ham can remodel their home in a way that will leave their ground fit solely for football and summer pop concerts.

There are other, smaller, adjustments available. Seats could be moved slightly nearer the pitch, but would then not be covered by the roof.

The stadium, built for the 2012 Olympics, is now the lightning rod for all West Ham complaints

The stadium, built for the 2012 Olympics, is now the lightning rod for all West Ham complaints

Equally, to adjust the lower tier would give the impression of further distance for those in the upper tier, leading to more complaints about sight lines.

A recent meeting with supporters’ groups demonstrated only how divided the various factions can be on even a simple redesign of the badge.

The worry is that the stadium migration has become a lightning rod for every complaint, from team performance to transfers, to the appointment of David Moyes, to the sale of Upton Park, to having the name ‘London’ on the club crest, and that there are too many fires to put out at once.

The most far-fetched idea is that the board should sell up. To who, exactly? Anyone in the market for an angry hornets’ nest?

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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