Amid the disharmony among the West Ham United support due to growing pains in its new London Stadium home, vice-chairman Karren Brady has defended the “rebranding” of the club – particularly when it previously had “no culture.”
The shrewd businesswoman’s words are likely to be met with contention from the Hammers’ faithful – a proud throng following a traditionally working class, East End club that’s now being referred to in purely business terms.
“Rebranding ourselves was really important with our stadium. We’re in the London Stadium. We added the word London to our crest because we felt it had real global appeal. Nobody else does it,” she shared at the Leaders Sports Business Summit when referring to the controversial move from Upton Park.
“We are in the heart of London, in the foothills of the financial sector. We have the best stadium – there are some great stadiums in this country, but there is only one Olympic Stadium and it’s ours. It’s really had a dynamic impact on the things we can do.”
It’s this switch that has seen the on-field struggles further confounded by in-fighting among the unsettled home support. At the Boleyn Ground, a ground encircled by terraced homes, pubs, and eating establishments selling unique Cockney foodstuffs like jellied eels, West Ham had a ground stood in the backyard of its own fans. Now, the Irons have moved into something more resembling a sports complex.
Despite the testy atmosphere, Brady has backed the club’s shift by detailing the high number of season-ticket holders and young fans populating the London Stadium. There are also plans afoot for a movie titled “Iron Men,” a feature-length film on the fans’ journey from Upton Park to Stratford.
This greater exposure is apparently down to the much-needed decisions made by co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan who, according to Brady, can be accredited with providing West Ham with a culture that wasn’t evident before.
“There were two interesting things about it. One, it had £100 million worth of debt. Two, it had no, what I would call, culture,” she continued.
“At football clubs we don’t make anything, we don’t manufacture anything, we don’t really produce anything other than more players. So getting the culture right, being a place where something is expected of you, having discipline, planning, and process, and strategy. That wasn’t there.”
A large section of Slaven Bilic’s senior players are currently away with the respective countries on World Cup qualification duty, but regroup for West Ham’s short trip to Crystal Palace on Oct. 15.