Don't use us, warns Junior Supporters' Board member

  • by Staff Writer
  • Monday, 10th February 2020

West Ham vice chair Karren Brady has apologised to a member of the Junior Supporters' Board after the board were accused of using the group for "good PR".

A teenage supporter, known only as 'Amilah' took to social media on Sunday evening in order to ask whe the club claimed the group - which consists of season tickets holders under the age of 16 - has been involved in "productive discussions" regarding mascot places when the most recent meeting was held more than four months ago.

And the young supporter levelled further criticism at Brady and her Official Supporters Board when she accused the group of being ineffective and without merit unless "people who make decisions attend".

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Vice chair Karren Brady has promised to investigate the young fan's claims

"My name is Amilah and in my application to join, I said that my priority for joining was to work with the club to get rid of the fees charged by the club to children to be match day mascots," she wrote in the first of a series of tweets.

"The first meeting was on 30 March last year. I was given the opportunity to present why I thought it was wrong that West Ham seem to be making over ?100k a year from kids to be mascots. The club bloke at the meeting basically said it's that expensive because it's a really good opportunity.

"We got the meeting minutes sent over six months later on 1 October, four days before the next JSB meeting on 5 October. The minutes didn't accurately record what I'd said. I asked for them to be changed. I emailed asking for certain bits of info so we could discuss on 5 October.

"At the meeting on 5 October we were told that the club would not give any of the information that we'd asked for. I think someone said something about charity places being given away at the Palace match. But I'm not sure because it's four months later and there are no minutes yet.

"Since then there has been no update on progress on any issue discussed by the JSB to my knowledge, no minutes of the last meeting, no date of the next meeting. So when I saw an announcement about the JSB and mascots on 24 February I was very surprised and very disappointed.

"Why was I disappointed? Because we'd heard nothing for four months," she continued. "You then announce three free mascot places as if the JSB had agreed with this. It felt like you were announcing this just because of the [recent fan] protests and you were using me and the JSB for good PR.

"You didn't even tell us it was happening.

"I thought maybe I'd missed an email. So I emailed again on 29 January to ask for any update on the last four months. I've totally been ignored. Where are the 'productive discussions' with the JSB you announced on 24 Jan?

"If you'd proposed three places from the dozen you give every match, to the JSB, I'd have said that's not good enough. It's a token gesture. I calculate the club is making approaching ?150k a year from mascots. That's 0.08% of the club's annual income but is so damaging to the WH brand.

"If there's one thing I've learnt from The Apprentice it's that a company's brand is vital. You'd add value by just making all the mascots free like so many other rival football 'brands'. Digging your heels in on this just makes the brand less attractive.

"The club people running the JSB are lovely and have got us involved in lots of other stuff outside the JSB. I'm really grateful for what they do for us. But if the JSB is supposed to contribute to changing how the club works for the better, then it needs people who make decisions to attend.

"I just wanted to contribute to the club but I don't want to be used by the club. We may just be teenagers, but we're not stupid."

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Less than 24 hours vice chair Brady responded to Amilah's tweets by promising to "investigate" her concerns. "I'm sorry to hear of your disappointment," she replied. "We value your feedback and your passion is exactly what we need.

"We've made changes to the mascot package following your suggestion and there are plans to evolve these further, which will be picked up at next OSB meeting.

"I'm investigating with the team, but in the meantime I would like to invite you to our upcoming OSB meeting, alongside the JSB reps, where I will personally make sure your views are raised. I'll be in touch with you directly later today."

The young fan's concerns are just the latest in a long line of embarrassing gaffes involving the OSB, which critics claim is non-democratic and represents only a tiny proportion of the club's fan base.

Another of the groups included - Any Old Irons - has similarly not met for several months and information regarding it is scarce on the club's website. Meanwhile other members of the OSB have been censured for posting offensive content on social media.

Meanwhile the genuinely-independent supporters group, Hammers United, saw their membership break the 10,000 mark last week following a recent protest staged in the Olympic Park.

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