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West Ham board announce changes but will they make a difference?

Wednesday 11th January 2017
For many Hammers supporters, West Ham's "dream" move to the London Stadium has been more of a nightmare thus far. Only time will tell as to whether or not critics of the move will hold the same opinion come three or four years time. But for now, the board have announced a series of changes in order to mitigate growing unrest amongst an increasingly frustrated fan base. But will these changes make any difference?

It's safe to say it's been a difficult season for West Ham so far.

Logistically, the London Stadium move has been challenging. The initial failure to properly separate home and away fans led to crowd trouble and the issuing of stadium bans. Critics have argued that the new stadium is devoid of atmosphere, lacking soul in comparison to the romanticism of Upton Park. The Hammers' summer recruitment has also been brought into question, with signings like Simone Zaza making no impact at all. And for many fans, the recent 5-0 loss to Man City in the FA Cup has consolidated the fact that this season is now an irrelevance.

But the West Ham board are not giving up without a fight.

Within the last few days, the board have announced that a team of Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs) will be introduced at the London Stadium. Positioned across the stadium on match days, SLOs will listen to supporters who wish to voice their ideas, suggestions or complaints about how the club is being run. The SLOs will wear branded uniforms allowing them to be easily identified by supporters.
Hammers unveil Supporter Liaison Officers
Only time will tell as to whether or not this will help improve the relationship between the board of directors and the fans, which is currently under strain. Some may welcome the move due to the greater consultation with supporters. But sceptics may question the influence the SLOs have at the club, arguing that this announcement is merely a presentational fad and (marketing aside) holds little substance.

Another change the board have made is the removal of the controversial “Insider Column” from the club website. This column reported on “rumours” from unconfirmed “sources” within the club. This "official and yet unofficial" paradox certainly left fans confused. Many were also frustrated by the transparency of West Ham's transfer business, as the column gave major hints about who the Hammers were in for in the transfer window. For example, the column recently suggested that the club had tabled "a bid of £20m" for "a player from Scotland". This all but confirmed media reports that West Ham were interested in Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.
In the grand scheme of things, these changes won't make a huge difference to the ongoing situation at the club. But they at least give an indication to fans that the board are listening. However, the only way to really win over the sceptics is for results and performances to improve on the pitch.

Like all football fans, realistically, West Ham supporters don't expect their club to win every week. And given the wealth of resources Pep Guardiola has at his disposal at Manchester City, the loss in the FA Cup is forgivable. But what is unforgivable, however, is the nature of recent losses and performance levels. Lots of the players look uninterested. Payet, in particular, looks like his head has been turned, reportedly liking a tweet on Twitter calling for him to return to former club Marseille following last week's loss to Man City. Whether or not the responsibility for low performance levels should lie the players themselves or with the manager, Slaven Billc, for failing to motivate the players is debatable. But things certainly need to improve.

David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady are not ones to chop and change managers regularly. However, if results do not improve soon, they may be forced to consider Bilic's position. Undoubtedly, West Ham's next two games are massive. West Ham play Crystal Palace at home on the 14th January which will certainly be interesting, as Big Sam returns to face his old club. The Hammers then travel to Middlesbrough the Saturday after: another winnable (yet by no means easy) fixture. Win those two games, announce a good signing and all may be forgiven (for now, at least). But until then, the fans look glum and in all honesty, who can blame them?
Cameron Broome
Born and raised in West Yorkshire, England, Cameron is a Huddersfield Town season ticket holder and has attended matches since he was five. However, Cameron is a West Ham fan where he has been a club member for several years, regularly attending matches with his Dad. His favourite players growing up were Andy Booth and Mark Noble. Over the years, both of his teams have evolved and he is optimistic about their future. He believes his two clubs have lots in common: both are family-oriented, rich in history and have sensible (yet ambitious) boards of directors.

Total articles: 17

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