Why lifetime banning orders are empty promises from West Ham

first_img West Ham’s final match at Upton Park was marred by trouble outside the ground talkSPORT’s Drivetime presenter Adrian Durham was presenting a live show from West Ham’s Upton Park ground ahead of the final match at the 112-year-old stadium. Here, he gives his take on the events that threatened to ruin a special occasion.The scenes outside Upton Park on Tuesday were apocalyptic. It was like being on the set of the film Green Street. You’ve seen the footage, you know what happened, so what should happen now?The fact that West Ham co-owner David Sullivan took it so lightly reflected West Ham’s lack of preparation for such a huge event. Sure they spent £250,000 on fireworks and West Ham branded taxis for the celebrations. Unfortunately they forgot the important stuff.Co-owner David Sullivan’s feeble response embarrassed the club: he said there was no damage to the Man United bus and it wouldn’t have happened if they had turned up a 4pm. Away teams never arrive three hours and 45 minutes before kick off, and there was substantial damage to the bus. Was Sullivan claiming it was United’s fault? Was he saying that if you get to a certain cut off time then your bus deserves to be bottled? They were irresponsible comments from a man in a very important position in our game.The club have promised to ban for life anyone found guilty. Well let’s see if they follow through on that. But what will it mean if it actually does happen? I hosted Drive on talkSPORT from Upton Park from 4pm until 7pm and then popped outside to gauge the atmosphere. I was horrified. It was like the wild west.I recalled a conversation I had on the tube with a Hammers fan earlier that day on my way to the stadium.He had two tickets to sell and wouldn’t accept anything below £1500 for each of them. I asked if he was going to the game, and he said he couldn’t because he was subject to a banning order – he was a bona fide hooligan.His words to me: “They’ll all be coming out of retirement for this one. The fact it’s United makes it better, although we’d have preferred Chelsea.”In other words, all the Hammers hooligans not allowed to go to games formed a substantial part of the baying mob outside.So West Ham are promising to catch the culprits and ban them for life, when quite possibly most of them are already banned for life. Empty words.And what if some of Tuesday night’s hooligans aren’t subject to banning orders already? West Ham will ban them, then pluck a few numbers off their waiting list and fill up the Olympic Stadium – no big deal for West Ham. No punishment.Don’t forget this is the Premier League, these scenes go around the world.On the pitch it seemed to be perfect. That is until you highlight West Ham players falling over for no reason and getting cheap free kicks – Aaron Cresswell for the winning goal for example; Mark Noble twice after that to waste a bit of time.Not everything went West Ham’s way of course, but after a first half Hammers goal was ruled out the officials were made well aware that the crowd were baying for a home win.The nonsense outside the ground forced the ref to delay kick off and commanded ‘common sense’ refereeing – and I’m being diplomatic with that wording.Listen, I’d seen Mike Dean referee like a rabbit in the headlights in a massive game at Middlesbrough on Saturday; he was like a quivering wreck of a rabbit at Upton Park midweek. Any ref would have been, knowing what had happened outside.For all those reasons the game should be replayed behind closed doors at a neutral venue. The whole night stopped being about the fairness and integrity of the Premier League. It became about intimidation of opposition and officials. I used to love Upton Park, but walking past police vans and debris, smelling fear and violence in the East London air, I realised it really was time to move on.I hope for the sake of honest decent people like Karren Brady and so many others who work at West Ham United Football Club, that the disgraceful minority element of their fanbase don’t move on to the new stadium with them. 2 2last_img

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