Nigel Kahn’s Column

Is this the way to the next level?

NOTE FROM IAIN: The Predictor League for the Arsenal match is now open HERE. You have until 12.01pm on Saturday lunchtime to enter your team. If you haven’t signed up for the new site yet, please do so HERE.

Sha la la la la la la la
Sha la la la la la la la
Sha la la la la la la la

When the day is dawning’
On a West Ham Saturday morning’
How I long to be there
With the team who’s playing for me there
Every other ground, where I watch them play
Is twice as pretty as where my club is at

Is this the way to the next level?
Every game I’m sitting in my seat now
Dreaming dreams of the Next level
While all the tourists sit next to me
Is this the way to the next level
I’m still waiting like an idiot now
Cryin’ over the next level
Hating Karren who lied to me

Sha la la la la la la la
Sha la la la la la la la
Sha la la la la la la la
Hating Karren who lied to me

If a week is a long time in politics, then five days is a long time as a West Ham fan at the moment. Believe it or not, I like to plan the article I hope to present to you all but with all the goings at the moment its been hard to keep up with trying to present an article that is up to date as such when you read it.

The start of any season always brings the excitement that at last, the phoney news season is over, and we can, at last, get back to talking about the most important reason we support the club. Football. Sometimes I think fans can get so wrapped up in the off-field soap opera that is West Ham that they forget it is a football club.

The short close season was mired by the fact the club had no income to put into transfers and had to sell players to be able to buy anyone. Quite how has it come to this position that just four seasons into ‘project next level’ and the finances the move will bring that the club is skint & on its uppers, having to sell anything that moves to afford new blood to replace the fairly new blood that was just two seasons ago being hailed as the greatest squad in the club’s history by some.

Frankly, if you don’t know how we got to be in this situation then you have done well to avoid the club’s social media commentators (yes me as well), all with their take as to why and how. The number of fans we have that are accountants now has stunned me, as I thought we were a working-class supported club not populated by the grey middle-class numbers and figures people that at work are shunted to the part of the building no one wants to be in or if you have to go there, no co-worker seems to know where they are.

The problem I have is so much is put out about the owners’ financial dealings in the club, so many claims, that some of the claims are repeated so often that it seems to most of the fan base, it becomes the truth. It does seem that a lie can travel ten times quicker than the truth and the problem I have is when you accuse the owners of lying to the fans the last thing fans should do is tell lies about the owners, or untruths, to expose them.

Facts are facts and the facts are that the club is in the mire, the reason for that is the mismanagement of the club by those entrusted to do so.

Mis-managed for me since the day they walked in.

I don’t think though, they have robbed the club (of money), stolen money of asset stripped the club (playing wise). Last week Sean Whetstone and I took part in a video on Irons United YouTube platform that set out the finances of the club through the Dave’s ownership of the club. The reason I went to Sean with the idea was to put out the facts of the finances using the club’s accounts over the previous 10 years. I did say to him I want no, or minimal, use of senior source information. It had to be verifiable use of facts. Now, this isn’t me going soft on the ownership nor is it Sean working me to come round to his way of thinking. It was done to show that the ownership of the Daves can be damned by using the facts against them. That we are in this mess due to the way they have run the club over the 10 years they have had it. The accounts show it all there. Facts and truth.
It shows that despite what Deloitte & Touche say, we are not a rich club, Wealth is not equated by income but by how much money it has. We may have the 18th biggest income but if the outgoings exceed the income was left in the situation we are in now.

BEGINNING OF THE END.

It seems that the beginning of the end is here. Stories came out this week of two bids made by unknown Americans. Strangely, though, it seems not all is there. It is rumoured that bids were sent directly to DS, not to the club and its possible that some directors knew nothing of the bids.

Did they bid than for all the club, or just the 51% owned by the largest shareholder?

With the excitement of finally a chink of lite to ending the era of the Daves, it is tempered though by the fact that it could be out of the frying pan, into the fire. Whoever buys a Premier League club is predominately doing it now to try to make money out of the club. Hopefully, that is achieved by bringing real success to the club, but the first question that should be asked of any potential owner is “what you going to do if you don’t make money?” as the current owners have failed at that and so we are now in this mess.

Looking through the vast list Sean W put on here Sunday, out of the Americans listed it is the Creative Arts Agency which seems most likely. They may be a bit far out there as potential owners go until you see one of their biggest clients is James Cordon. 2 & 2 may end up being 5, but watch this space, as they say.

SEASON TICKETS

Did you renew, naturally I did, but then again I’m a proper mug punter, one of those that would go even if relegation meant we were in League 2, not just the Championship.
I’m not buying the clubs “sales are going well” statement as they moved the renewal deadline twice. When I rang to renew, the day before the 1st deadline expired, I waited only 40 minutes, had 50 people in front of me. Normally it was so bad it was quicker for me to drive to the ground and renew than it was to wait the 90-120 minutes I had been quoted as waiting time in the past.

The fact they moved to a 2nd renewal date, after the 1st game of the season had played to boot, and they have sent letters out saying there will be no members or general sale of season tickets to the waiting list (don’t laugh) says to me this will be the biggest single drop in season ticket ownership ever in the club’s history. Now that is proper damnation of the ownership by the fanbase if ever there was one.

BUNDESLIGA CORNER

As a new convert to the German game, I have started to try to get a better understanding of the way they run the game out there. My weekend out there last December showed me that going football for pure enjoyment is possible, I’m not emotionally attached to any club so to go for just pure enjoyment was refreshing and showed actually that it is their model of fan experience the Premier League should be looking at.

Also, the Germans seem to many to be great organisers so its interesting to see how they bring football fans back in line with COVID restrictions as compared to what I presume will be money orientated grab by Premier League clubs.

Bundesliga news website carried the following news…

This week it’s been agreed that restricted fan attendance can be commenced. Entrance to stadiums must be regulated, the wearing of masks is obligatory when spectators are not in their designated seats, and sections of the stadiums must be cordoned off in accordance with social distancing requirements. Travelling fans and alcohol sales will also continue to be prohibited. As has been the case in all partial re-openings, only contact traceable season-holders will be allowed in. If in any region the number of new infections exceeds 35 per 100,000 inhabitants in a given area for seven consecutive days, any public gathering can be cancelled. The current 20-per cent occupying capacity country-wide decree runs for six weeks. It shall be re-assed at the end of October.

If the 20% model is retained in the Premier League then that means only around 13,000 fans can attend our games, it is not football as we know and love, but when I attend, ill be so grateful to just be there, I’d care not a jot that it’s a sanitized version.


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Line in the sand moment

It’s a bit early to be speculating on when football or in fact, life, will return to what we knew it to be before we had ever heard of Covid19. Its still too early to make a judgement on that, although I still believe that whenever that is you just pick up and finish were we left off then start again.

For the owners, though, the postponement of the season has brought a reprieve from the mainly negative press they had been getting, deservedly for me. The mainstream media were having a field day with our ownership and its lackey, helped by their banning of fellow journalists and the protest movement growing in numbers.

It’s possible the two went hand in hand. The journalists smelt blood and the protests were like a gift to them allowing them to continue writing articles except with new perspective from protest leaders and organisers. These articles breathed life into the protests taking them off social media from where their strong base was and making them mainstream. But with no football now taking place, the list of games where protests were planned have ceased to be played and with the possibility of football only returning behind closed doors then that will not only exclude fans, but stop any protest from happening as well.

What is the future though? The world is going through an unprecedented catastrophe that is suspending our way of life and sometimes when that happens it allows you to stop, pause, and rethink how you feel and perhaps consider behaving better in the future.

Football clubs at the moment have no income coming in – no fans in stadiums or going to the club shops. Season ticket money is normally divided up into 19 portions and then paid out after every game goes by, but then season ticket money does not bankroll a football club for 6 months let alone a full season. TV money is the driving force in the top division.

If no football is being played will the full money of the contract be paid? Ally that with the fact that with no live TV many are cancelling their subscriptions to the TV companies so it would pressure them into not paying the full contract if the games are not played. Through all this time, though, the players and staff will expect to be paid.

The owners will be the obvious port of call if they want to have a club that can survive and thrive in the Premier League.

Once life and with it football resumes, will fans still than still want to protest against owners who like them or not have kept the club going through this situation? If the season resumes, surely all our focus should be on the team, not distracted for minute by protests no matter what the situation is.

Don’t get me wrong, im not changing my stance or belief that the club will be better off by the current regime leaving. I will never stop looking forward to the day they leave as it is the only way I can see the cycle of turmoil ending as for me it’s no coincidence that there are only protests when the club are in relegation dog fight, so for as long as we struggle there will be the stick of lies to beat them with. What they said in the years before the move will always hang round them until they leave.

What I won’t have now is an appetite to protest or to drive them out by creating even more chaos as that is what the protest will bring. I still believe they should be criticised if needed and once football resumes I will just look forward to being able to go watch them play. I will be grateful that I can watch them play as the world will never be the same after this pandemic comes to an end, and if the world changes why shouldn’t football and us as fans change as well?


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Time for a Football Revolution.

Desperate days call for desperate measures and football in total closure three quarters a way through a season is in a desperate place.
The baronesses call last Saturday for the league season to be void didn’t go down well in many quarters but it did have some sympathy with many fans backing the idea. Though most seemed to be those that hate Liverpool and would take great delight in them being denied the title they deserve to win this season.
The problem at the moment there seems to be no end in sight of football being able to be resumed with fans in the stadium, which frankly is the whole part football is played in my opinion.
The baroness’s option of voiding does leave many questions for the authorities to deal with, If they give the league title to Liverpool, as they deserve, how do they decide the Champions League spots for the following season. Who gets promoted up, the top 2 in the championship are not cut adrift from clubs below them and the way games pan out in that league it is possible that neither W.B.A or Leeds would get automatic promotion.
If the season s voided then the problem of how the distribution of money the league awards to clubs will be possible be challenged.
Firstly, The TV companies will not be handing over the full amount as contracted as the full games of the contract has not been played. Then there will be the argument over how league placing money will be distributed, especially considering Aston Villa have a game in hand which if they won could push them 3 places higher which equates to about 5 million pound extra, aside from the fact it would take them out of the bottom 3 and possible relegation if the league decided to continue with that outcome.

There are so many outcomes it is laborious to list so what I outline is how I believe football should restart once we get the ability to play games with crowds in the stadiums.
Its possibly extreme but it could work, but it would change possibly forever the calendar that football is played to.

I would be now looking to restart the leagues on the 8th of August, allowing for 9 weeks of league football, 2 free weekends to enable International fixtures to resume, playoffs for Euro 2021 are still required, and also 3 Weeks to finish the FA cup and hold a final, the season would then finish with the FA Cup final being held on the 30th of November.
To enable this all football contracts would mandatorily be extended by 6 months, with no players being allowed to leave any clubs.
December would be left football free to allow the player 4 weeks of not playing and allow an 8-week transfer window to open.

The new league would begin on January 1, 2021, and would run for 9 months until the end of September 2021. Scrap the league cup for that season and just play the FA cup as a midweek tournament in its place. Once the season ends by September 30th, this would then allow for one month of conditioning training before the cancelled international tournaments of 2020, Euro Championship and the Copa America to take place across November 2021.
All football will then be in close season again in the December of 2021, again allowing for the transfer window to open.
The 2022 season would then start again in January and play out in the same way as the 2021 season. The league campaign will again end at the End of September allowing a short 2-week break for all footballers before the World Cup squads join together and play friendlies at the end of October, Early November before the Qatar 2022 world cup is scheduled to start on the 22nd of November.
The World cup has been shortened and is due to finish on the 18th December, this will allow players some time off before the league campaigns can begin again the following year.
It is at this point the league has a decision to make, it could decide to have an Eight-month break and return the league to its traditional August to May running order, or, it could stay as a yearly league starting in January and finishing at the end of September, early October.

Even without the current cessation of football, the league calendar would have been disrupted by the World cup in Qatar in 2022, this will play havoc with clubs whose players will need to be free in November and not be available again till the January. What I have outlined above actually will allow the world cup to take place with no disruption at all to league football.
The big flaw in what I propose is it destroys our traditional football way of life in not just this country but across the whole of Europe. It would need agreeing not just by the Premier League, nor the EFL, but would need all leagues across Europe to agree so it would need sanctioning by UEFA as well and possibly FIFA.
What it does do is give the authorities the chance to standardize world wide the football calendar so all International tournaments across the world would, World Cups, Euros, Copa America and African cup of Nations, as well as the Asia Trophy could all now be in November/December months so no more domestic clubs losing players through their domestic season to play in these continental tournaments.
This is football chance to revolutionise and standardize itself around the world, Do I think they will take it. Not a chance, but I live in hope.
Feel free to criticise below in the comments but don’t just call me an idiot and run away and hide, explain why you think I’m an idiot, we can then discuss as adults,
And then agree I was right.
Adios amigos.


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Just When You Thought It Was Safe... I'm Back!

It’s been a while, people.

I’d like to apologise first as when you take on writing a column for a website to then suddenly stop without reason is not fair on other writers or the website owner, so hopefully, he can forgive me for my absence as you all can. Sometimes I struggle in getting an article put together that is different from the rest you can find. After all, you don’t want to read for a 3rd or 4th time about how bad we have been in any particular game.

After my last article I never really thanked the readers on this site for the comments I received. They meant a lot to me, and the wife actually, so thank you all.

It seems the protest movement against the owners is growing. Two marches have been held, protests at away games with the black balloons being released and more to come it seems the numbers are growing. The end game is to get the owners to leave, but how long will it take and how extreme should the fan base go to get them to do that?

Last week I self-published an article aimed at getting the GSB out fans, of which I am one, to look at how fans could apply pressure in other ways. Marching and balloons are all well and good, as is standing by the gate, but that can only be done by the fanbase at the game.

We all know the club collect social media followers like years ago kids collected stamps. What is needed is a mass unfollowing of West Ham by its fans on social media. Don’t follow them on Twitter or engage with them. Don’t share their videos and put out the reasoning behind it to encourage those around the world or not at the games to do the same.
Remove yourself from all their social media accounts.

A boycott of club partners as well, which looking at the list is easy, and publicly state they will be boycotted by the fans. Businesses only partner with fans to get to their database, and we are part of its database. Corporate companies should be lobbied to not renew any association with the club.

Brady is kept on as she is good for DS in bringing in the corporate money. We as anti board fans now need to target that income as best we can. Companies won’t enjoy the negative press, especially if it can be done with wide world fanbase against the owners.

I can see those of the fanbase who are ambivalent to the protests saying that by doing the above it financially impacts the club’s ability to buy players. To answer that I would say that TV money is a great driver in a club’s income, not its sponsorship deals.

It is been said that if I don’t like the club why keep going, but a big mantra of the protests is to support the team, not the regime. We need fans in the ground to support the team, so I would encourage fans to buy tickets to attend games and back whoever pulls on the shirt to pull us out of the danger zone, because if we did find ourselves dropping out of the Premier League, while it may quicken the corporate partners departure and that possibly of GSB, but the club left behind may take years of pain for it to recover just its top-flight status again. I’m sure that is not a scenario that even the hardened protestor would want to see.

What fans don’t need to do while at the game is buy their scarves from the club shop, nor T-shirts. If you do want to buy a shirt for yourself, buy the shirt with no sponsor on, or even then get it printed with GSB OUT where the sponsors’ name should be.

Fan representation groups have always interested me since before the move. Some may know I tried to set up WHUISA originally back in 2014, and only for a friend’s illness we would have achieved that. In 2016 it was delivered on a plate to new people and I agreed to join them on the committee. A fine gentleman of this parish though did question me, “how can I being an affirmed board hater be part of a fans group that will need to sit down with the club and work with them?”.

Easy I replied. When I walk into any meeting as a member of WHUISA I will not be representing myself but I will be representing my members as a whole, and I will do my best by them and put my dislike to one side.

For organising a fan representation group was about bringing all fans together, there was no pro board or anti board, it was never supposed to be a protest group.
Sadly WHUISA’s current committee now, having gained its position by holding a coup against the last elected chairman – very democratic that – are getting publicity by hanging on the coattails of Hammers United, a group that was born out of protest for me and was always going to go down that road. But with WHUISA now a protest group as well, who will be able to bring fans together from all sides of the fence if the day comes and the owners move on, not WHUISA that’s for sure.

While on my last stint as a committee member on WHUISA I argued against a members campaign against setting up a WHUISA food bank. My reasoning being was WHUISA had at that time, been unfairly tagged as a lefty organisation and the foodbank could be construed as being a political tool used by the left to shame the right-wing government we had. WHUISA should just concentrate on trying to represent its members in dealing with the clubs machinery.

John Ratomski has finally achieved in setting up Irons supporting Foodbanks he and his team of volunteers collect food from fans on the walk to the stadium from Westfield. If you see him say hello, drop him a tin of beans or anything you feel like donating or stick a sheckel or two in his collection team. All food collected is then taken to the local Newham foodbank for distribution to those in need of help.

I still believe I was right to oppose John against WHUISA organising the food bank for the reasons I gave, but I am so pleased to see him get this off the ground and get the credit he deserves for this. I have promised him after my daughter’s wedding I will come down and shake a collection pot for him before a game.

On the field, we as fans can be pleased with the performances put in since the close Liverpool away defeat, and while currently, it is goal difference that keeps us out of the relegation zone, I remain optimistic that we won’t be going down.

Moyes is not a charismatic manager and I don’t see his teams playing in a charismatic way, but when he was at Everton I never had him down in the Allardyce or Pulis brand of football. If I was to describe his style of football in one word it would be functional.

As since the move we seemed to have on the pitch gone from one crisis to another as much as off the pitch, it may be that Moyes and his functional brand of football could be the respite we need. Instead of looking as us as a club that should be challenging the top six we should settle for being a mid-table and mediocre for a few years.

Lastly, with the world, it seems embroiled in a medical catastrophe I would be supportive of the banning of football fans from attending games, but then, since my daughter’s impending wedding means I won’t be attending any games until after we have played Burnley, it seems I’m self-isolating myself anyway, well, from West Ham at least.

Hope to see you all on the other side.


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Twenty Four Years of Hurt

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

I’m not one for gimmicks in football, every game at the moment seems to be sponsored by or in association with some kind of information organisation or awareness brand trying to get their message out. Me, I’m not bothered, I just want to watch football.

But then I watched the two teams line up together behind the FA Heads Up banner in the FA Cup game at Gillingham and that got me thinking about how in the past football in one way or another has helped me cope with the demons that lurk inside and the challenges that life throw at us.

This time of year for me is never my favourite time to be honest because of an event 24 years ago and yet at the time football was an escape for me. It allowed me to forget for a short period, the distress of life at the time.

Some people reading this may think my action to be strange but we all have our coping methods.

This is the first time I’ve ever thought about putting this down in writing, but in doing this I hope to highlight the positive impact football can have when you face the worst day/weeks of all and perhaps hope that the football world can see it really can be positive when used to help in some way to overcome mental barriers that so many put up in times of trouble.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

Christmas 1995, I’d been married for 6 months and was looking forward to the new year coming, a year that would change our lives as my wife was 6 months pregnant. Yup, I didn’t hang about basically, if you know what I’m saying.

The warning signs of what was to come were there, we just didn’t realise, the midwives and doctors at the hospital didn’t see either despite the fact she was displaying symptoms of what was coming.

Friday, January 5th 1996, my wife went to see our GP, she wasn’t feeling too good. The GP sent her to hospital straight away, concerned for her welfare. I was called and met her there. I can still remember standing next to her bed, not knowing anything wrong with her when a doctor came in and told us out straight: be prepared to lose your child. It was as cold as that.

My wife was put into a room for monitoring, we were left to ourselves confused and were now worried. I spent the night on the floor of the room, I couldn’t leave her.

Saturday, January 6th 1996: To be honest, I can sleep through most things, but that night wasn’t great, the not knowing eats away at you but I’m conscious I need to keep a brave face, constantly reassure my wife don’t worry, everything will be ok, yet inside you are petrified that it is not. Minutes and hours slip by. I’m joined by the In-laws. Still, the hospital says nothing, they just monitor my wife. Saturdays in hospitals back then were almost closed except for A&E Depts.

At 2 o’clock, rightly or wrongly, I needed a break. I needed fresh air and I needed to escape.

From the hospital room, I could see the back of our house, but I didn’t go there. I walked the 15 minutes to Green Street, where West Ham was playing Southend in the FA Cup third round at home.

I stood outside the gates to the ground to chat with my uncle like I did every game. At the time I didn’t even tell him what was going on, where I’d just come from, or where my wife was or what we were going through. We did our usual talk of anything West Ham and the upcoming game. For that ½ hour, I was released from the worry to the point of I walked up to my usual turnstile on the old West Stand to go in.

West Ham won the game 2-0. I never watched the game because I returned to the hospital, just that hour away. Being at the ground though had in a way, recharged me back to support my wife and face whatever would be coming.

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

Saturday, January 13th 1996: I have this ability to remember certain things in life by matching them to who West Ham was playing at the time. I don’t know who they were playing that day nor do I care. I was only 26 my wife was 22 but yet this was, without doubt, the worst day of our lives.

No longer at our local hospital, we were now at UCLH via the London. That morning a consultant gave me 3 scenarios and as compassionate as can be he asked me to make choices.

There was only one for me and I’ll stand by that for all my days.

That night part of us died and maybe in a way, bonded us together forever.

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

Monday, January 22nd: Nine god awful days but at last I get my wife out of hospital and home. For her it was the first time since that Friday she had been there.

That night West Ham played Manchester United at home. Cantona scored the only goal of the game. I watched at home on the TV, with the window open so I could hear the crowd noises on the wind.

Frankly, I’ve stared at this for 10 minutes not knowing the best way to describe the feeling so perhaps the fact I can’t says it all.

January 31st 1996: West Ham faced Coventry at home, in an entertaining game we won 3-2. I sat on the West lower and can still see young Frank waiting on the touchline in front of me waiting to come on for his first-ever game for us.

The next day we said goodbye.

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I will keep myself
I would find a way

Writing this was supposed to be me showing how football could be a great help in coping with extreme mental situations. I have other examples lined up of how I thought football had helped me. Actually, it reminds me that perhaps my relationship with football and especially West Ham is at times nothing to be proud of bordering on unhealthy. It seems I used football as an escape from life it didn’t help heal me it just helped hide me from dealing with life.

As I read the above for the tenth time I come to the conclusion I have a lot to be embarrassed even ashamed about, so now instead of it being about how great football can be a help, I hope it can be a warning to younger fans.

Sometimes we can all take football too seriously and now I believe Shankly was wrong when he said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that”

I owe my wife a massive apology.


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