It’s no secret that the transition to the London Stadium has been difficult for both West Ham United fans and the team. The supporters felt a bit of betrayal by the club as the promised European glory flamed out in August, only for the tired old tropes about “hooligans” and “ICF” to once again rear their ugly head after crowd trouble against Chelsea.
One of the issues that is most concerning to fans is the hundreds, it not thousands, of empty seats that appear at almost every game. The club likes to brag about how long the season ticket waiting list is and many fans complain that it can be difficult to find tickets, and yet every time West Ham is on television, the empty seats stick out and the match commentators and pundits have a fun time pointing them out and having a pop at the fans. It’s a sore spot, for sure.
So when the 8000000th tweet at David Gold about season ticket holders not showing up, and given the anger and resentment of the West Ham faithful who believed that moving stadiums would allow them to finally be able to afford to take the whole family to matches, only to see empty seats that seem never for sale, Gold decided to not take the high road, again, and tweeted out something that might be his most tone-deaf statement to date, which is saying a lot.
A “Season Ticket Holder didn’t turn up because he died”? THAT’S THE ANSWER? Is he suggesting that the Bubonic Plague has returned to London, killing off thousands upon thousands of West Ham season ticket holders? Is he suggesting that a serial killer is preying upon East London, like Jack the Ripper, only the killer is operating in such secrecy that no one has noticed the thousands of Hammer fans gone missing?
To dismiss the complaints of fans of empty seats that go unfilled while fans miss games, wishing they could get a ticket, is tone-deaf. To suggest that it’s because “people die” or other such events and it’s no big deal, is absolute garbage.
So once again, David Gold has tweeted without thinking. While the ownership at West Ham has stabilized the club, saved them from bankruptcy, got a brand-new Stadium with increased capacity, and increased the value of the club many times over, they apparently have no one at the club who is versed at all in PR.
There are many reason why a season ticket holder doesn't turn up for a match, being dead is just one of them. This applies to most clubs. dg https://t.co/0aCcVYKgJz— David Gold (@davidgold) May 8, 2017
David Gold appearing to blame dead fans for empty seats, Karren Brady appearing out-of-touch and flighty by posting pictures of the cheese spread at Arsenal in the midst of a gut-wrenching losing streak, and Jack Sullivan, the other chairman’s teenage son, posting official club business along with pictures of his dinner at Nando’s is not the work of a well-run, professional club. Twitter may be less “formal” than other forms of media, but someone needs to bury the phones of David Gold, Karren Brady, and everyone in the Sullivan family in the back garden. Deep, deep in the garden.
The board is damaging their brand and their reputations by tweeting things without thinking first. Yes, it’s fun to interact with fans telling you how wonderful you are, or how great the club is, and I suspect that is why the board tweets so much. But along with the love, they are going to feel the heat. They do own a football club, for crying out loud, and it is literally impossible to make everyone happy. Ask Jose Mourinho, who was fired at Chelsea TWICE after leading them to multiple Cups and Premier League titles. However fun it is to be told how great you are, it must be equally grating to hear how terrible you are. But in the position that the owners of the club are in, they have to grin and bear it, because to respond angrily only makes the story bigger and more embarrassing. So some random punter takes a shot at David Gold on twitter. What else is new. Gold increases the attention paid to tweet by responding.
GOAL 65mins West Ham 1-0 Spurs - Lanzini drives home from 6 yards out, London Stadium comes to life, big test of Spurs now— Ian Abrahams (Moose) (@BroadcastMoose) May 5, 2017
After the amazing win against Tottenham Hotspur, where the London Stadium or Vodafone Dome or whatever it will be called next year finally started to feel like home after a season of poor play and even worse atmosphere, the only thing this tweet does is to take away from the positive stories and press the Stadium is finally getting. Instead of everyone talking about how great the win was and how great the crowd was, now people are paying attention to this story. And Gold has no one but himself to blame.
So David, David, Karren, and Jack, bury your phones. Failing that, hire a PR person to take care of the official and UNOFFICIAL twitter accounts of the club, and anytime you think about tweeting anything besides how wonderful all the fans are, run it by actual professionals and maybe, just maybe, you’ll stop setting rakes out on the lawn for you to step on and you’ll stop hurting the club and yourselves.