Ugly scenes played out at the London Stadium on Saturday as West Ham United lost to Burnley 3-0 in the Premier League and are now just three points above the bottom three.
Home fans had planned a huge protest ahead of the game but most of the supporters’ groups called that off with reports stating the club had been negotiating with them during the week.
Yet when West Ham went 2-0 down early in the second half to Burnley, all hell broke loose.
Fans ran on the pitch, picked up the corner flag and one put it down in the middle of the pitch, while many supporters left their seats in order to protest against the ownership of the club under co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan.
The owners left the directors box as fans gathered nearby towards the end of the game as Burnley’s players brought young West Ham fans onto their bench to get them away from the awful scenes erupting around them.
Speaking after the game West Ham captain Mark Noble, who tried to push supporters off the pitch as the local lad remonstrated with them to stop, was brutally honest about the Hammers’ current plight.
“It’s well known fans haven’t been happy for a long time. The only way to squash that is to win games,” Noble said. “We should have been two up in the first half and as soon as we conceded, the atmosphere changed. The fans’ feelings took over. I’m a human being. I know I’m out on the pitch, under scrutiny, but if someone approaches me I will protect myself. So will a lot of other players. The crowd weren’t happy. No matter what happened today, it seemed they were planning something anyway.
“I wouldn’t say I felt in danger, but you never know in this world. I’m a West Ham fan and I’ve always protected the club. If someone approaches me, I’ll protect myself. It’s been like this for the past two seasons, since we moved to this stadium. Every time we lose we and the board get a lot of stick. It seemed today that the fans had had enough. They wanted to show their emotion. When fans come to the game with the hump, they know how to show their emotions.
“The atmosphere was horrible. We know a lot of it isn’t aimed at the players, but we have to be man enough to play in that atmosphere. I’m really hoping the fans have got it off their chest. They are a true, honest and passionate bunch of people. I’m hoping that they have had their outburst, because all that matters is staying in the Premier League. if they can help us get over the line, maybe we can sort it out in the summer.”
Noble’s manager, David Moyes, said he “wants the supporters behind us” and said the Hammers played well despite losing 3-0. This was West Ham’s third-straight PL defeat and their fourth in their last five outings.
“We want the supporters behind us, since I’ve been here they’ve been really good. But you can’t cross the line and come on the pitch. A lot of my players did well with the way they acted,” Moyes added.
The club has since issued a statement on the situation, saying the following.
Burnley’s striker Chris Wood, who came off the bench to add an assist and grab two goals in the final 30 minutes, had this to say when asked about the situation.
“What was going through my mind? Hopefully they wouldn’t stop the game. It’s a tough situation, I can sympathize with the fans,” Wood said. “They just want to see their team win. It’s tough for them at the moment but they need to stick with the players. You don’t want that to happen on the pitch, it creates problems and safety issues. We were fine, they were just voicing their frustration.”
No matter how bad the situation is off the pitch, there is simply no place for scenes like this in the photos below or the video above.