An open letter to our beloved leaders

Dear Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan,

I refer to your letter to me on the 19th May when you laid out your ten point plan for the future of the club I have supported since I was 5 years old, and one where for the past 11 seasons I have had a season ticket.  At the time, with the season just about to end I decided not to believe your “story” and decline to renew my season tickets.

I put up with almost weekly emails encouraging me to renew my seat despite asking to be removed from your mailing list.  Did you comply with my request in accordance with the Data Protection Act?  No – you simply sent me twice as many.  You emailed me at 3.30pm on Wednesday 23rd June telling me that Scottie Parker was “committed” and why hadn’t I.  I remember it exactly at that time as it was slap bang in the middle of me watching England’s game versus Slovenia.

So now with the season ticket deadline passed there are hints that Parker may indeed be sold to finance more overseas “stars” such as Mokoena, Piquionne or Barrera – hang on did you not say in point 4 that you would “clear the debt?” How exactly are you going to do that by bringing in such journeymen?  But I know your answer…

Today I decided to buy my tickets for the first games of the season.  As a member I get to buy my tickets at a “members” discount before the general public.  So I went online, added 1 x Adult seat and 1 x child seat for 10 year old Lolly.  To say that I spilt my tea when it came to the “check out” was an understatement.  £81 for two tickets…and that is the cheapest tickets in the house.  £51 for me, £28 for a 10 year old and then you have the cheek to add £2 for an Admin fee – what exactly is that for?  Are you not ripping me off enough?  Should I wish to sit in one of the more “expensive” seats I would be paying £69 and £37 respectively.  £37 for a child.  What planet do you live on?  How exactly is it “making it enjoyable to come and watch?” or even point 5 – “member benefits will be improved”

I travel each week to and from Copenhagen – a wonderful city and recently named as one of the top 5 expensive cities in the world to live in.  Do you know what I can buy for £37 for my daughter there?  Well how about a ticket to the cinema, entrance to Tivoli Gardens theme park, lunch or even a flight to get there in the first place.  How can you justify charging £37 for a child’s ticket?  And nearly £70 for an adults ticket – you do know that is more than a ticket for the Champions League Final, the Europa League Final and even two categories of seats at the World Cup in South Africa.  So I could have got a seat for Portugal v Brazil in the World Cup finals for 20% less than a ticket for West Ham v Chelsea.

Can I ask a simple question?  Do you feel that these prices give value for money, or are you simply doing this to reduce the debt?  I wouldn’t mind if you came out and said “we need to clear the debt so we have to charge you and arm and a leg” but instead you try and justify it with marketing blurb.  I realised last season that despite being a West Ham fan, I actually have a choice.  I do not have to pay these ridiculous sums anymore.  I have taken the £189 I would have paid for tickets for the three games and bought a season ticket to Lewes FC in the Blue Square South, which includes a FREE child’s ticket and then given the remaining £50 to my wife to spend on a new handbag.

The next generation of football fans are the likes of my 10 year old and you are driving them away from the club with your pricing policy.  There will be no one to fill that void in years to come and that is because of the decisions you are making today.  But then again, I expect fans like me to be around long after you have moved on to your next project.

I am sure you don’t actually care that you have lost two more fans.  I do not spend money in the stadium on the average overpriced fayre you serve up.  I do not buy the propoganda match day programme and I do not buy toasters that print WHU on my bread so in that respect I am not your ideal fan.  But I am a true fan and you simply cannot see that, mores the pity.

One day you will see the light.

The Ball is Round


    1. Well said, Stuart, your letter is typical of how many fans of other clubs feel, too.
      It makes me appreciate Niall Quinn even more than I already did, and highlights the pure greed, and lack of empathy, at clubs such as West Ham.
      Football is in our hearts, and should never be a worry in our pockets. Sunderland A.F.C. have promised to keep it affordable, and ” for us all ” and they are keeping their part of the deal. I’d hate to support a club with an attitude like you’ve described, and maybe that would change if we all used our pens !

  1. Not a west ham fan obviously, but I whole heartedly agree with your letter and wish you all the best.

  2. Your voicing the opinion of hundreds of thousands of fans across the UK. I was a season ticket holder at Ipswich for years, and jacked it in five years ago and now split my time between Ipswich Wanderers (Ridgeons League) and the odd Town game, mostly aways so I don’t fund Marcus Evan’s madness.

    Ipswich charge over £30 for their cheapest ticket, to watch Championship football. I’m unemployed, do they offer concessions? Do they hell! They’d rather have a stadium with 10,000 empty seats than charge concessions £10 and fill some of them.

    If more people took our stand and refused to pay then we’d get somewhere, but there are too many sheep who are paying stupid money to watch a load of mercenaries. People, wake up and make a stand. Ultimately we do still have the power, we’ve just forgotten for the most part how to use it.

    1. I know a couple of Ipswich fans and they same exactly the same.

      The reaction to this has been amazing – so many people feel the same. I am also an EnglandFans member and for £37 I can buy my ticket and my daughters for an England international.

    2. Kesgrave Ultra – I visited Ipswich Wanders last season. Yes, the ground is rather decrepit, with peeling blue painted corrugated iron everywhere; and the attendance was paltry. For all that though, there was passion in abundance, with volunteers keeping this club (and many others like it) afloat. This is ‘real’ football and I would much rather pay my fiver to watch a game in ECL Division 2 than pay a ridiculous sum to watch over-paid, over-hyped prima donnas strut around in the Premier League (or even Championship), who couldn’t care less about the club or supporters. The whole culture of the professional game in the UK stinks, and to a large extent has been ruined by the greed of players’ agents. It’s about time supporters of these clubs made a stand and started voting with their feet.

  3. Agree 100%.

    Football is being destroyed by these greedy fat cats and turning into a bland, sterile, over-hyped and overpriced experience. Football is all about the religion like fan and the tribal passion, this is lost to the money men. Cambridge United here i come.

  4. More and more fans are taking the step down to watch smaller clubs, which I think it great. There are clubs at all levels that want to play the game the right way too. The passing might not be as crisp as the top players, but the game is more honest and so are the prices.

    The saddest thing is that these stupid prices are going to pay the stupid superstar wages that some clubs pay to very average players.

  5. Excellent article Stuart, I couldn’t agree me … although I might have suggested Eastbourne Borough rather than Lewes ;-)

  6. Good letter…

    The only way to stop this over pricing is to vote with your feet. Dont go, watch it on the telly.

    As a Boro fan, our last Premiership game was at WHU. i refuse to pay more than £40 a league ticket, even though we already booked trains. Instead we still travelled to London, watched in a boozer where the landlord give us free food to keep 20 lads happy spending money. He knew the value of our custom.

    Screw the greedy owners/players/etc… dont go, then they have to drop the prices.

  7. Quality Stuart

    I used to follow Reading but absolutely hated it when they got promotion to the premiership. Everything was then about how much money they could fleece the supporters for who had followed them through the lower leagues. Haven’t been for over 2 years and don’t miss it all. Much prefer going to local non-league games where the majority are friendly people who are there because they are passionate about local football and players who are not just there for the money.

    Keep up the good work with the blog

  8. Wow. It’s as if I’ve gone back in time a couple of years. De Ja Vu. As a Brum supporter every word you say is so so familiar.

    We had everything for £2 handling charges for tickets bought with a card to £70 Away Travel Club memberships. Our away travel under these clowns was paltry. Spin doctors and they don’t care. They once, in a home program criticized the stay away supporters saying they’re letting ‘out’ club down. What?? Why would you moan about that in the home program at the actual supporters did turn up?!?!


    1. You won’t be suprised to hear this is all over Birmingham City message boards. All so familiar to us i’m afraid. They used to charge us £1.50 to buy an away ticket at our own ticket office! The parting shot from the welsh midget was that we wanted Premiership football but didn’t want to pay for it. Well,he wanted a Premiership football club……but guess what.

      1. Gold and Sullivan, and their cronies, are so predictable. First gain the trust of the fans. Then rip them off. Then criticise them for staying away because they don’t wont to be ripped off. And the circle goes around again.

        However, the difference with their situation at West Ham is that there is the potential prospect of being given a new home in the Olympic Stadium and selling some prime real estate at Upton Park and making themselves a few quid.

        At Birmingham they retained interest in the club until they learned that the local council wouldn’t back a ‘City of Birmingham Stadium’, which would have given them the same financial benefits. They left as soon as they realised that wasn’t going to happen, eventually selling to a man they had openly criticised as being bad for the club.

        Hammers fans, if for whatever reason these owners dont manage to secure use of the Olympic Stadium, you’ll then see just how familiar their modus operandi is – when they sell up and disappear, leaving you feeling frustrated that the promises had come to nothing, but ultimately relieved because it only takes a short while to sus these ‘businessmen’ out..

        Good luck – you’re going to need it!

  9. Very well said- tho’ they did save the Blues from administration- as they constantly reminded us- just work out actually how much of their own money they actually invested- they did it via loans which were all repaid with interest- Blues fans put up with them for too long & wait with interest to see what the new owners are like. Best of luck WHU

  10. as bluenose above me has said, this is like looking back into birmingham city’s recent past. they used exactly the same spin and tricks with us and drove away a third of our fans within 2 seasons. £50 for ‘select’ games was introduced for us too.

    KRO SOTv

  11. Spot on Stu. It would appear daylight robbery really is taking place at Upton Park. Those prices for a 10 year old are insane.

    With a heavy heart I have to agree with Kesgrave Ultra that for everyone who takes a stand – you – there will be another sheep to fill the void. That said, that is not a good enough reason not to take a stand in the first place.

    Interesting comments about just “watching it on the telly”? Could clubs survive with no warm bodies going to the grounds, but hugely increased TV rights? I do not know enough about TV rights finance but don’t Italian clubs negotiate their own rights? And their ground can be empty at the best of times.

    I digress: how about two prices for my local team, the New York Red Bulls. Spurs are in town for a friendly, cheapest seats £22. Not bad given the status of the EPL opposition. Next MLS game at home to Toronto FC, £14. With Henry! Bargain.

  12. I’ve read your letter with interest. I’m a Birmingham City supporter so am well versed in the practices of Messrs Gold and Sullivan and, their sidekick, Brady.

    When they came to my club they were most welcome because we were a club on our knees and they did some great work, both to the ground and in the running of the club.

    But the milk soon turned sour as they just wanted more and more from supporters. They made promise after promise but failed to deliver time after time.

    I recall one summer sending supporters a letter about a new £10m striker we were about to sign. Within the same letter was an invite to renew your season ticket.

    The player, as it happened, was one we knew – Mikael Forssell – and the £10m was his £3m fee, salary and add-on’s to his contract. Since that letter many Blues fans saw through them and slowly more and more stayed away until our crowds were around 20k.

    Then, in his wisdom, Sullivan attacked the ‘stay away’ supporters with a scathing attack in the match day program – obviously didn’t understand the concept that a supporter not at the match will buy or read a match-day program! Then he attacked the players, manager and everyone else pointing the finger of blame.

    We’re not a perfect club but we now have new owners and an audible sigh of relief went around Birmingham when they left town. The new owners are having to repair the fan base and rebuild the lost trust that overpriced ticketing and market bull caused.

    It will take a while but we’ll get there. West Ham, like Blues are in the shadow of bigger clubs with working class supporters who are proud of our club.

    I’m delighted these people have left our club but i’m desperately sorry that they’ve taken refuge in another well-supported, proud club like West Ham.

    All the best.

    Oh and did i mention that every usually falls on deaf ears with them lot? So good luck too!

  13. I agree with my fellow Blues fans above. This is like St Andrews two years ago.

    On J&S we tended to be supportive of the board, however we did criticise where we needed to.

    Although you letter is a fabulous piece of writing, unfortunately it will make absolutely no difference.

    They are only interested in one thing, themselves. The West Ham Fans are not even close to the top of their priority list.

    At the Blues, we had the same promises, were told we were the best fans in the country blah blah blah – but within 24 hours of leaving the club we were a training club.

    This might seem like sour grapes, but I promise you it isn’t. We’ve had more changes for the fans within 12 months of the new board being in, than the whole time the Davids we “in power.” I wouldn’t want to swap boards in a million years.

    I hope things work out for West Ham, but I fear it’ll get worse.

  14. There’s a reason why non-league football is mostly cheaper.

    It’s crap, despite al the cutesy family homespun nonsense they feed you.

    The players are also every bet as avaricious, upping sticks for another £20 elsewhere.

    1. Non league fans support their club without rose tinted glasses. Few teams retain more than 50% of their squads at the end of each season but that is part of the appeal – the chance to re-invent themselves. Supporters at this level have chosen to watch the game because they love the game and not through a misguided loyalty that the club actually needs them. I have chosen to follow a non-league team and put my effort into making them a better place for others to go. For instance on Saturday I will be helping paint the dressing rooms – why – because I want to feel part of a community, to make a difference.

  15. Sunderland fan here. Well written letter mate, there are some arseholes in dangerous positions at football clubs these days. Thankfully, one of them is the chairman of Newcastle United :-)

    Good luck for the season, although not against us.

  16. Of course you could have got a kids ticket for £1 to watch the opening game of the season buy why do that when you can throw a hissy fit on the internet.

    The cheapest kids ticket for the likes of Chelsea was £23, if the cheaper tickets had gone when you went to book tough luck. The cost of an U16 ticket for the Aston Villa away game is also £23. Is the cost of the Aston Villa tickets the fault of Gold & Sullivan as well?

    Are West Ham the only club to charge booking fees then? That’s funny because I got charged over £2 by Peterborough for a ticket to a pre season game. Perhaps I should write a sanctimonious blog on the internet and whine about the owners of Peterborough and Aston Villa and all those other clubs who are doing the exact same thing you accuse the club you used to “support” of?

    You must be feeling very proud to be the darling of anyone who wants to have a pop at West Ham. Almost as proud as your wife when she carries whatever bit of tat she can pick up for £50.

    I feel sorry for people who simply can’t afford to go anymore, that’s been happening for years not since Gold & Sullivan arrived. By the way, last season they reduced the ticket prices by half for three games towards the end of the season, funny how you stay silent on the positive things they have done but then your little rant isn’t just about ticket prices is it.

    Enjoy your painting, hopefully without the negative presence of the likes of you at the Boleyn the atmosphere will improve considerably. When bored of playing at being a non league uberfan you could always become a Birmingham City supporter, you can then drone on about Gold & Sullivan to your hearts content.


    1. You are entitled to your opinion just as I am. I was not talking about the opening game – I was referring to the Chelsea game. Yes you can get a £1 ticket for Bolton for under 16’s but the Adult price is hardly a bargain is it. My blog post was also sent as a letter and an email to the club. Will they answer? Not a chance. Am I proud of what I wrote? I write because I enjoy writing, and people enjoy reading it. I do not write to be controversial nor to placate people. I write my opinion based on fact and interpretation. Why shouldn’t I express my opinion, just as you have above. Is anything I have said untrue? Is a catagory 1 under 16 ticket for the Chelsea game £37? Do you really feel that a minimum of £23 for a child is excessive? Why not make all games £1 for children?

      The messages that have been coming out of the club since the new owners took over have been bizarre to say the least. They are not interested in the fans, just as they weren;t interested when they were at Birmingham.

      I have no idea if they reduced prices at the end of last season – I had a season ticket and paid my money up front. They had to do something to get the home fans in and pathetic attempts to endear themselves to the fans through email obviously failed. I was not one of the thousands of fans who booed players or the team nor would I ever do that. I have supported the team home and away for the best part of 25 years – let me re-iterate that – supported the team.

      Lots of people are being priced out of the game. Over the past three seasons I have seen over 10 fans who used to sit in our area decide not to renew their season tickets due to cost. West Ham have some of the highest ticket prices in Europe to watch football. The owners have gone on about reducing the debt, putting the squad up for sale and bringing players who want to play for the club…Yet they were the ones who brought in absolute flops like Mido and McCarthny. If they were such bargains why have the club spent silly money again today bringing in two more forwards.

      I will enjoy helping out a non-league club tomorrow and then supporting them later in the day alongside a group of other fans who have also given up on watching football at a higher level. I know the football at that level is not as good as in the Premier League, but there is significantly less histrionix, attitude and desire to earn money.

      I am still racking my brains about the positive things you are referring to though? Perhaps publically slating the manager after an away defeat, or saying all the squad are up for sale bar one player was really a motivational masterstroke? How exactly will a move to the Olympic stadium for instance help? We have zero chance of breaking into the top 4/5/6. Our crowds will never rise above 40,000 especially if they took forward a pricing model like they use today. There needs to be a dose of realism as to what sort of club we are, and what sort of club we can honestly be.

    2. And don’t forget the frozen season tickets for the second successive season with a promise of a reduction next season for those renewing for 5 successive seasons.

      It is not all bad news. So very glad I have renewed, COYI.

      1. I remember the statement put out by Duxbury about the season ticket prices. I will be interested to see if they honour that promise next season.

  17. For an idea on how the Olympic stadium will help, check out swissrambler blogspot. As for Birmingham fans, nice to see you Slagging off G&S, they eventually got you into the pinnacle of English football (well top half) on a sound financial footing and you moan how bad they were at Slagging others off. How ironic. Look at Cardiff city.£4 mil in debt before they start a season, attendance pays for the police, money they owe are paid by corporate seats. I digress. I don’t like the high prices, but being a supporter of a premier industry premium prices have to be accepted (it costs £20 to go to the bloody cinema! Maybe, moving to a new stadium will bring better opportunities to supporters. I play Sunday league, I help out running a small league, I also like to get away from the “norm” and lose myself in football and a couple of pints. COYI

    1. Sullivan and Gold are successful businessmen in their own right – they do not need football to make more money – and they never will make money in normal situations. You simply cannot compete for the top prizes unless you are prepared to spent billions (used to be millions but now we are in the Man City league) and there is no way you can ever recoup that kind of money. Take Yaya Toere – £250k a week after tax? What on earth is that about – Man City cannot increase the capacity of COMS so where do they get the additional cash to pay for it? The answer is from their owner – they will never see a return on thier investment.

      It is quite interesting that Sullivan and Gold’s involvement at Birmingham was initially based around a dream of moving the club to a new national stadium that could be located in the midlands. Then there was a possibility of a Commonwealth games bid for the city. And now West Ham – all of the initial talk was about moving to the Olympic stadium – why? Because it is the only way they can make a return on their investment. The club would be “gifted” a stadium, already built with world class facilities that otherwise would be a white elephant. They would pay rent on it, but of course would then sell Upton Park for a huge amount and simply pocket that as their return. Would they have been interested in West Ham if the Olympics were not happening 3 miles up the road? I doubt it.

      Game 39, pre-season tours to America (who gains out of Man Utd v Celtic in the USA apart from the money men?), changing kits every year – its all about money. Its not about the fans – we are a distraction and 99% accept that letting the clubs walk all over them. Just because I am refusing to pay up to £37 for a child’s ticket does not make me any less of a fan. They are still my club – I am just making a decision not to put my money into their pockets.

      The original 10 point plan talked about having “the right manager” – Is Grant the right man, or the only man available at the right price? THe right players? Hmmm well we are stuck with most – I haven’t seen the clubs queuing to take the likes of Dyer and Spector off our hands so our debt will grow as we buy new players.

      You pay £20 for the cinema, I pay £10 down here yet we are both guaranteed to see the same thing. We also know to an extent the level of entertainment and so can make that choice as to whether it will suit us before we go. Based on our appalling performances against Bolton in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and applying the same logic would you then go and spend £35+ for a ticket for that game? Would you spend £100 on an away trip to Everton or Liverpool where we have been so embarrassingly bad for the last decade?

      In the lower leagues it is much more of a level playing field – a small minority of clubs have some money but on the whole everyone can beat anyone on their day – I saw Lewes record one of their first wins of the season against high flying Dover on Boxing Day by 6-2 then 5 days later lose to them 2-0.

      As to your last point – get yourself down to a non-league game once in a while when the football and the couple of pints can be shared at the same time….

  18. The reality is clubs like West Ham dont want too many concensionary tickets sold, when they can sell out at full price and even more so full season tickets with guaranteed revenue whether the fans turn up or not. Also consider the full “match day” revenue experience seat revenue is more or less fixed now for the foreseeable future so getting people to spend more on beer, betting food etc while they are here is where the “big” new income generator could be and you arent going to get that with kids also consider sponsorship opportunities e.g. half time events etc many opportunities that could potentially exist (e.g. gambling, insurance etc) are for adults not children.

    I could go on, but the reality to keeping a high price and high “net worth” spectator base is where the money is…. its the same in any “media” environment a bit like The Financial Times and The Sun, the FT can charge more for advertising than the sun per reader since the average income is bigger

  19. Hammers ST holder sounds like i did 6 years ago, a Birmingham City life long fan and 20 years as a season ticket holder i too could only see the good in Gold and Sullivan and thought like you that its tough for those who cant afford to watch thier passion live. But then i woke up and smelt the coffee and saw the regime in charge at my club for the lying, scheming coniving bunch of thieves that in my opinion they really were. You my friend, unless you are in employment of the said regime will also open your eyes to what they will do to your club, one day. Until then enjoy the meddlesome wanabe football manager that is DS and the good guy in the pais DG who will always stand up for the supporter and will apologise no end for his partners rants whilst all the while trying to find another way to fleece you of your hard earned in the name of your football club. And by god you will be reminded at least once a month how grateful you need to be for them stepping in and saving your club!

    The one main problem i have with DG&DS is thier inability to realise where their support comes from. When Rover went bust a few years ago, instead of realising that several thousands of their loyal matchday fans would be made redundant and making it easier for those fans to buy tickets, they put the prices up? And guess what our ST sales fell by several thousands.

    Good luck to WHU’s fans you are going to need it!

  20. spot on Stu………..ive kicked it into touch too – its bad enough paying thru the nose, watching tripe just takes the **** further.

  21. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I am a Birmingham Fan and have for years have witnessed the criticism of Gold and Sullivan with a combined feeling of despair, disbelief and frustration.

    I have no allegiance to G&S and like most fans simply want a future for my club.The forums have constantly been littered with criticism of the board for not making the big signings and then in the same breath criticism for the high pricing of tickets.


    Premiership status will cost extortionate ticket prices
    Big name players will demand big wages
    Big wages will demand high prices tickets
    The wages will always determine the prices of tickets and also lead to financial suicide Leeds, Southampton, Portsmouth, and most of leagues 1 2 3. It is only a matter of time before we see a high profile club go under Liverpool and Man Utd are probably the favourites with debts of £500 million.

    Professional Football clubs are no longer a prudent financial investment, they are the preserve of the super rich who choose to use them like an expensive toy.

    In the current financial turmoil we are advised that we are all in this together. Yet we see the first £200,000 a week!!! footballer signed this week for Man City. It is now only the foolhardy who choose to pay the extortionate prices. As we tighten our belts i hope it cripples the premier league and Murdoch (sky) to boot.

    Direct your anger towards those players you immortalize each week as they kiss your teams badge. The same players who will hold out for a bosnam and choose not to honour contracts

    I would honestly prefer the collapse of the premier league and a return to the eighties where there was a loyalty and unity between players and fans.

    G & S like most businessmen are there to make a profit regardless of what you think of their methods and integrity. They will however provide a stable and sound club at West Ham, remember the mess the last circus left you in when they chose to pay extortionate wages.

    A coordinated national effort to boycott games for one season and instead watch match of the day would i believe see the return to the days i reminisce about


  22. As a Liverpool fan engaged in the fight I want to commend you pal, wish we had a few more fans like you rather than the apathetic masses we see

  23. At least you have seen the light early. S&G were ok for 4/5 years so it took a while so most Birmingham fans to suss out they were con men.
    My prediction is if you get the olympic stadium they will stay and rape your club for every penny. If not they will be gone as soon as they can find a mug to pay over the odds for the shares.

  24. Great letter, though I’m sure it’s already filed under B for bin.

    As a ‘previous’ season ticket holder at Birmingham for 15 years with my father, we put up with the same promises and drivel from those clowns for years.

    Many could say that they left our club in a better state than they found it, but they ripped the soul from it many believe.

    I eventually gave up my season ticket after been worn out with the ‘we are going to do this and that’ letters, and I am now out of the habit of going at all. Sully and Gold lost the heart, after the council didn’t gift them a stadium, now they have set their sites on the Olympic stadium for WH, upped the season ticket and gate prices, promised big names, they might even agree a fee for a few of them (but don’t worry, they never agree personal terms as they only offer them £2 a week!).

    Like me, I hope you don’t lose the love for the game, enjoy the lower leagues with your family, where I hope your attendance is appreciated.

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