West Ham are clearly in their best possible period since David Gold and David Sullivan almost 12 years ago.
Having endured years of relegation battles, an actual relegation, promotion back to the Premier League and a stadium move, it’s little wonder that fans have been calling for a change of ownership in recent years.
We don’t need to go into the reasons why West Ham fans have been feeling that way, you should already know them, but in the last two years, things have begun to change.
The return of David Moyes as manager initially looked like yet another poor decision by the owners, but instead it has turned out to be an inspired appointment with the club going onto to finish sixth in the Premier League under the Scot and start their first-ever Europa League group stage campaign with a 100% record.
The future is certainly starting to look a lot brighter in east London, especially after the immediate four years that followed the move to London Stadium were almost the complete opposite of what fans were promised by the board.
We were told that West Ham would be better on the pitch after the move from Upton Park was complete but were instead given one top 10 finish and three relegation battles. The fifth season in the new stadium finally delivered on that promise and the sixth is already shaping up to be just as good.
Just before COVID brought football to a halt in March 2020 and before West Ham embarked on their incredible 2020/2021 season, thousands of Hammers fans marched through the streets of Stratford in protest of the current ownership.
Last weekend, Hammers United claimed around 400 fans came together to peacefully protest outside London Stadium. That saw a significant drop off from the 8,500 they claimed marched ahead of the Southampton game on 29 February 2020.
That suggests the appetite to really push for change amongst fans has waned somewhat over the last two years, even after the recent takeover attempts from Pai Capital had shown some promise to those fans who still long for new owners of the football club.
But Pai Capital recently announced they would be pulling out of their attempts to buy the club, citing David Sullivan’s insistence that it is the wrong time to sell West Ham because of the current success on the pitch.
And Will Pugh from the We Are West Ham Podcast has said on their most recent episode that given the improvement of fortunes on the pitch and the fact promises are finally being delivered to fans, his appetite for change isn’t as big as it once was and that he backs Sullivan’s reason for not selling to Pai Capital.
Pugh said: “Obviously there has been some strong feelings towards David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady at different times in our history.
“But at the moment, the club is playing well for the first time and it’s taken longer than it should have done. This season, and last, are the first time we’ve seen them deliver on their promise of what would happen when we left Upton Park.
“World-class football for a world-class stadium is obviously a quote that is thrown back at Karren Brady in particular, and rightly so. That was the implicit agreement that West Ham was going to be better on the football pitch than they were at Upton Park when they made the stadium move.
“Last season and this season was the first time that we have seen that, so I’ve got absolutely no problem with people being angry or whatever.
“I perhaps differ from other fans. I never got to the stage where it was no way back for them, I just always said I just want the promise to be delivered on and they haven’t been doing it up until then. But it seems to me like they are at the moment so I’m not necessarily calling for a change in hands as much as I was.
“You can’t just be critical all of the time, in my own opinion, for your argument to retain strength. You can’t just be critical 100% of the time because otherwise your argument just looks weak and it’s just easy to back down because the people that should be defending their actions, in West Ham’s instance the owners and the board, would just go ‘oh there’s no pleasing you, you’re always going to be moaning,’ and therefore they get away with doing anything then.
“So I feel praise has got to be given credit where it’s due. Ultimately it was their decision to bring back David Moyes, who is looking like our best manager in quite some time, the level of transfer activity this summer wasn’t quite as bad as it was building up to be and, okay, I would’ve liked to have seen some more bodies but David Moyes has come out and said he’s happy with it.
“I just think as far as the Pai Capital thing goes, even if West Ham were in the midst of it being proper terrible as it has been as far as fan protests go and what we saw a couple of seasons ago where you had between four and seven thousand West Ham fans protesting in the street, marching against the board, even then that wouldn’t have made me necessarily believe that Pai Capital were that much better for the club.
“I think at the moment, in a weird way, I sort of agree with the board. Perhaps now isn’t the time to sell because it finally is going well and they are finally doing what they said they were going to do. To be quite honest, if we carry on playing well, my anger was only born out of the fact we were promised something as fans and we weren’t being given it, but last season and this season we are so if you don’t let that sway your anger, your anger wouldn’t be the same as everyone else’s.
“There were around 400 West Ham fans protesting at the weekend. I can only imagine but, that protest comes from anger towards the actual people, which is fine, fans have got the right to do that and I understand why some people have already been pushed over the edge and there is no way back for them now, I totally understand that some people have been pushed that far.
“But mine was always just, give us what you’ve promised and if you’re not going to do that then sell up, find someone who will do that. But, it doesn’t matter to me really who’s sitting in the boardroom while we’re playing like this.”