Much is being made of the security measures in place ahead of Monday’s match at London Stadium between Chelsea and West Ham United. The last time these two clubs faced off, West Ham got the better of the Blues, winning 2-1 in an October EFL Cup match. A Hammer victory was, sadly, not the main headline the next day. Various news sources were citing violent eruptions from supporters on both sides and pinning the blame on London Stadium’s LS185 and their inability to limit the interaction and tensions between the two groups.
Here we are again, six days away from Chelsea’s return to London Stadium, and the question being asked is, “Is West Ham United doing enough?”
Sure, we’re still seeing a bit of growing pains with LS185 as they adjust to life as a football hosting venue. Dealing with opposition and fans is a challenge at times for even the most seasoned stadium managers. With almost a full season now under their belt, at least West Ham United, feel they are up to the challenge and have declined to add any additional security measures ahead of the match.
That does not mean, however, they have not taken multiple measures to ensure security since that night in October. The number of match liaison officers, or MLO’s, have increased from 10 a match to just over 40. An MLO’s job is to handle fan questions, queries, and to pass suggestions over to the club and stadium management. All security guards and stewards wear body cameras to record any event that is deemed ‘trouble-worthy’. West Ham have also barred certain ‘risk groups’, justified or not, from attending matches in the hopes it will deter others from behaving in the same manner. Lastly, Hammer supporters and opposition have been segregated even further by widening the gap between the two sets of fans. Not just in the stadium, but in the concourse and queues as well.
Local metropolitan police commented they have a ‘robust’ plan in place in case any outbreaks of violence erupt Monday evening.