Friday 28 October 2016

West Ham to ban 200 disloyal supporters


West Ham United says it will pursue a zero tolerance policy against the thugs they believe are damaging their image and are ready to ban 200 of them following the ugly scenes that marred their EFL Cup win over Chelsea at the London Stadium.

The club mounted a massive security operation for the visit on Wednesday of Chelsea, who brought 5,182 travelling fans, and it featured police officers inside the stadium concourses and rapid response units outside it. There were more than 900 stewards on duty.

There were tensions and instances of trouble throughout but the abiding images were provided during stoppage time, when the Chelsea supporters filed towards the exit at the back of the lower tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand. Some West Ham fans ran through segregation lines to confront them and, although the rival factions were kept apart by the stewards, there were many missiles thrown, including ripped-up seats, bottles and coins. There was bitter frustration among the West Ham hierarchy because they were told by experts from the police and safety groups that the stadium operation had been a success.

The security line between the two sets of supporters was not breached and the riot police arrived on the scene less than 60 seconds after they were called. But it did not stop what was extremely damaging footage towards the end from being beamed round the world and pushing the team’s 2-1 victory down the news agenda. The club have resolved to send the strongest possible message to the hooligan minority, partly because they are mindful that, in their new stadium, they have 10,000 children among their season ticket holders.

They are in the process of sifting through the CCTV footage to identify the offenders. The club are looking at 200 cases, with the worst offences being the missile throwing. They intend to ban those individuals for life. But they will also clamp down on others. They have seen footage of people making throat-slitting gestures; others running through a segregation block of 25 unsold seats to get into the stewards’ faces and some more who dashed back to join the mêlée, having initially left the stadium. The club plan to ban these individuals for the remainder of the season. West Ham’s image has taken plenty of hits since their move to the London Stadium because of various instances of disorder, which has led them to ban 23 fans already.

The West Ham vice-chair, Karren Brady, said on Twitter: "Fantastic result last night. The team were exceptional & atmosphere electric. Shame that a few marred the occasion. WHUFC and London Stadium have today been identifying all of them and we will be issuing banning orders. Football doesn’t want these people & with over 55,000 supporters on our season ticket waiting list we certainly don’t need them at WHUFC."



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