West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has branded the attack on Manchester United’s team bus “moronic” and vowed to ban the fans who were involved for life.
A section of Hammers supporters attacked the coach as it approached the ground before West Ham’s 3-2 win on Tuesday evening, the last game to be played at Upton Park.
Bottles appeared to be thrown in the direction of the vehicle while objects were also thrown at United goalkeeper David de Gea during the match and a fan invaded the pitch to confront the Spaniard.
Brady condemned the actions outside the ground, which marred a thrilling finale to the Hammers’ 112-year stay at the Boleyn Ground, and promised to take action.
Speaking to The Sun, she said: “The volume of people – most of whom did not have tickets and were just there to be part of the historic night – meant that the two team buses were held up getting into the ground.
“Manchester United were stuck just around the corner on Barking Road for nearly an hour as they crawled along inch-by-inch.
“It was sadly during that time that a small handful of people decided to throw objects at the bus, causing some of the tinting shield in the windows to break off. It was a moronic thing to do and as a club we utterly condemn their behaviour.
“So let me be clear on this – they don’t deserve to be part of our exciting future and if they are identified we will ban them for life without hesitation.”
Co-owner David Gold suggested the incident highlighted the importance of the club’s upcoming move to the Olympic Stadium.
He said: “You can see sadly what happened was we had a situation of having probably 45,000 fans and the infrastructure can’t cope with it.”
Speaking at the Telegraph Business of Sport Conference, Gold said: “It was clear evidence of what we’ve been saying all along – to fans that are saying ‘We want to stay at Upton Park, let’s develop it, we’re only
moving for other reasons, not footballing reasons’ – you can’t develop West Ham any further.
“It is completely at its capacity, 35,000 is all that it can cope with, and you saw that. There was 45,000 fans there and they gridlocked the East End of London. I’m sure the (overcrowding) was a contributing factor (to the violent scenes).
“The new stadium has got five train stations. What we had was tens of thousands of fans in the streets: you can’t have that. Modern stadiums have all got overspill areas. Upton Park doesn’t.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 11, 2016
Three men were arrested during the game, including a 20-year-old on suspicion of affray and a 47-year-old and 18-year-old for pitch incursion.
The Football Association has contacted both clubs for their observations and liaised with police as part of the ongoing investigations.
While Gold apologised for the attack on United’s bus, he appeared unaware of the trouble inside the ground.
“We’re all very, very sorry for what happened,” he said.
“If we could have done anything to avoid it then we would have done, but it is outside of our jurisdiction, these are fans outside of our responsibility and inside the ground everything was perfect.
“But it’s not an issue for us, because that was outside the ground, our job is to deal with the issues inside, and of course we did.
“We had a fantastic evening, the fans were so absolutely exemplary (inside Upton Park), a great evening of football: it’s not often we beat the mighty Manchester United.”