Multiple investigations have been launched following the scenes at London Stadium on Saturday, as West Ham United fans staged angry protests during their team’s 3-0 Premier League defeat to Burnley.
The football club is currently in its second season of using London Stadium, the former centrepiece of the 2012 Olympic Games, as its home ground. The club has faced numerous difficulties since the move from its historic Upton Park home, with discontent amongst fans rising to a head on Saturday as supporters sought to make their feelings clear to the West Ham ownership.
Saturday’s game saw four pitch invasions and clashes between players and fans, while a large group of fans managed to break through to the area in front of the director’s box. Police said two allegations of assault are being investigated, while the scenes also led to Burnley allowing young fans to sit in their dugout towards the end of the game to avoid the unrest.
West Ham club legend Sir Trevor Brooking was sat in the director’s box during the game and told BBC Radio 5 live that the level of stewarding, provided externally by the London Stadium operators, was not “sufficient”.
“The club are obviously going to have to look at things with the local police and make sure that trained stewards and police are in place – you’re almost looking at it and saying, ‘this is out of control’,” Brooking said.
“It was sometimes going back to the bad old days of 20-25 years ago. I saw some families leaving because the youngsters were frightened. The level of aggression was something I couldn’t believe a West Ham fan would get involved in.
“All I would say, between now and the end of the season is, ‘anyone who has got that aggressive frustration just don’t come to the five home games that are left’ because we need everyone – all the fans and the team – all working together to try to get sufficient results.”
The Daily Mail newspaper added that the Sports Ground Safety Authority, the body responsible for stadium licensing and taking safety measures, will propose a significant reduction in the stadium capacity for the next home games but will not recommend that matches should be played behind closed doors.
West Ham said in a statement: “West Ham United have immediately launched a full and thorough investigation into the incidents which marred the second half of today’s match and are committed to taking decisive and appropriate action. An emergency meeting has been called with all London Stadium stakeholders.”
London Stadium added: “Following the incidents which took place during West Ham United’s home fixture against Burnley on Saturday 10 March, London Stadium, in conjunction with all stakeholders, will conduct an urgent, thorough and extensive investigation.
“The Stadium planned and implemented a robust and extensive security plan in line with the recommendation of the met police, and in line with requirements of the licensing authority.”