Violence at West Ham’s London Stadium discussed
PUBLISHED: 16:08 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:07 01 December 2016
West Ham United’s vice-chairman put disturbances between fans down to “teething problems” today.
Speaking to members of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, Baroness Karren Brady accepted problems had arisen after the club moved into its new ground, but clashed with member Andrew Dismore when challenged over the millions of pounds it costs the Met to police West Ham’s London Stadium and grounds across the capital.
When asked whether West Ham paid any costs, a defiant Baroness Brady said: “I pay two and a half million a year.”
And after being asked if the club had a “moral obligation” to pay more, she replied: “The purpose of our business is to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our supporters. We do what is requested of us.”
During the two hour long hearing the committee, which investigates policing, were also assured that clashes were caused by a minority of fans.
The chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, David Goldstone, charged with maintaining the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park area, said: “We feel the misbehaviour is the fault of the people misbehaving. It’s not the club or stadium [who are responsible].”
But in a further clash, Mr Dismore criticised the police for not having annually agreed guidance, known as a “statement of intent”, drawn up which details how safety arrangements are to be divided between clubs and officers.
“It’s a matter of concern that this has not been put in place. I’m concerned those documents don’t exist,” he said.
However, Commander B.J. Harrington, responsible for policing football across London, said agreements are drawn up on a match by match basis.
When questioned whether the stadium, which was originally built for athletics, is fit for purpose Baroness Brady said firmly: “It’s absolutely suitable for football.”
On the issue of whether there were stewards at matches with enough experience, the panel were told there was an issue with some staff not being familiar with the role.
Of the club’s 1100 stewards, 300 had moved with the club from Upton Park, the hearing was told.
“It’s an improving situation,” said Newham Council’s Sheila Roberts, who advises on safety at the new ground.
Mr Dismore’s question about whether there were staff working at the club on zero hours contracts received no clear answer.
He then launched another attack over staff working for contractors at the club and not getting paid the London Living Wage.
Looking squarely at Baroness Brady, Mr Dismore asked: “Are you embarrassed by this?”
Returning his stare, the baroness answered: “We are the first club to pay the London Living Wage.
“We’d like it to be done [by all our contractors and other clubs].
“But it’s not my responsibilty.
“Anyone who works for us anywhere is paid the London Living Wage.”