West Ham are re-seating a section of Stoke supporters for Saturday’s Premier League fixture in a bid to prevent trouble at the London Stadium.
Since moving to the former Olympic Stadium ahead of the current campaign, the ground has been plagued by issues – the latest and most serious of which saw violent scuffles between rivals fans that marred last week’s EFL Cup tie against Chelsea.
In an attempt to avoid a repeat of such scenes, West Ham, E20 Stadium LLP and London Stadium 185 – the former Olympic Stadium’s partners – have made five changes to protocol, including increasing the distance between home and away supporters and widening the line of segregation on both sides of the lower tier from where away supporters watch games.
The latter measure will extend to the lower concourse walkway, with higher barriers and a 10-metre wide sterile area introduced, and as a result around 80 Stoke supporters will have to move seats.
A spokesman for Stoke said: “The club have been advised by West Ham that some supporters will be issued with new tickets, this is due to West Ham changing their segregation plans.
“The changes affect those sat in block 117, seats 122 to 124, in rows two to 15; and in seats 122 to 125 in rows 16 to 25. We are working to contact those affected to re-issue the new seats that have been sent to us by West Ham.”
Stoke have sold out their 2,800 allocation for Saturday’s game, where fans could see stewards operating handheld video cameras to act as a deterrent.
Upon leaving the London Stadium, supporters will be segregated.
Mark Field, vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary football group and Cities of London and Westminster Conservative MP, said West Ham should play behind closed doors at the former Olympic Stadium if the violent scenes that followed the Chelsea game are repeated.
Sullivan on West Ham ‘trouble’
West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan insists suggestions that the club’s time at their new home has been beset by trouble is nothing more than media hype and people wanting the club to fail.
Speaking after last month’s home win against Middlesbrough, Sullivan said: “It makes me angry to read stories this morning sensationalising the events outside London Stadium yesterday.
“A group of mindless thugs with no intention of watching the game came together outside the ground, and three arrests were made.
“I have watched all the videos and as far as I can see, any issues were routine football problems that were dealt with swiftly and safely.
“It is clear that the police were quick and professional in bringing any incidents under control, and although it is something that we must stamp out from football in general, the scenes were certainly not exclusive to West Ham United and London Stadium.
“The overwhelming majority of West Ham United and Middlesbrough supporters behaved absolutely impeccably, which is something that seems to get forgotten time and time again.
“I get the impression that there are lots of people out there who want to see the migration to our new stadium fail, and will take every given opportunity, big or small, to knock what we are trying to do.”