One thing struck me after seeing what happened at West Ham: Were enough questions asked by fans before they moved into the London Stadium?
That’s what I ask every football fan of every club before they get a brand new stadium or owner — did you ask enough questions or did you get blindsided by promises you’re going to be rich, in the top four and playing Champions League football?
There was loads of smoke billowing out of Upton Park for enough fan groups to want to ask questions then.
Questions to David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady about the finances, the situation with various local councils, their track record with previous clubs and how they wanted to handle this move.
But I think, as usually happens with lots of football fans, they got very giddy about moving to a new ground and swept away by the promises that come with it.
Those promises are not unique to West Ham fans, they have been made to plenty of clubs.
The fans all keep schtum until a situation arises when it is too late, and events like those we saw at the London Stadium on Saturday against Burnley happen.
I’m hearing from some West Ham fans that they asked Newham Council if they could peacefully protest but were turned down.
I can’t believe that in this day and age fans can’t congregate at the local supporters’ club and make their opinions known without having to run around the concourses and invade the pitch.
Fans of clubs such as Blackpool and Coventry have been staging peaceful protests for years. Why should West Ham fans be any different?
We are always quick to feel sorry for fans as if they are the slighted ones, but before the first game of the season at the new stadium there wouldn’t have been too many people who weren’t thinking: ‘This is a great thing… we’re going to kick on to the next level.’
You would hope Hammers players will be saying, ‘That was pretty nasty. Let’s roll our sleeves up, get on with the next three or four games.’
If they do that, they won’t have to be looking over their shoulders for the final few games of the season at the possibility of relegation.
It’s sink or swim time.
If you get into those situations you just have to look at yourself and say, ‘Do I want relegation on my CV?’
I was desperate to avoid that on my record, and indeed, was never relegated.
I played at clubs that were relegation-threatened and got out of it with a few games to spare.
The financial implications of relegation for West Ham, bearing in mind they were budgeting for an eighth-placed finish, as Gold said last week, would be disastrous.
They have to find every single ounce of belief among their group to get out of it and then take stock in the summer.
Then, if Sullivan and Gold can’t take them to where they want to be and fulfil promises the fans feel they were made, they should put the club up for sale.
It’s a tough time for West Ham, but if they escape relegation at least they will have the money and wherewithal to look at it and say, ‘Let’s never allow this to happen again.’
In the meantime, however, the situation is clearly toxic.