The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has told talkSPORT West Ham United need to “get a grip” of safety issues at the London Stadium following recent crowd trouble.
Supporters invaded the pitch, others threw coins at West Ham co-owner David Sullivan who was sitting in the stands, parents escorted their children out of the stadium and a police officer was allegedly assaulted during the team’s 3-0 defeat to Burnley on March 10.
PICTURED: Mark Noble shoves supporter to the floor as West Ham protests mar match
Those angry at David Sullivan and David Gold feel fans have been let down by the move away from Upton Park, investment in the playing squad and subsequent results on the pitch.
Mr Khan said: “I understand the concerns of many West Ham fans. They are very unhappy about events in the recent past. What you can’t condone is behaviour we saw during the Burnley game.
“Those who run West Ham have got to get a grip and, working with the stadium operators, make sure this sort of behaviour doesn’t continue. It is West Ham’s responsibility to make sure there is proper behaviour from their fans.”
The Mayor’s words are likely to frustrate West Ham’s hierarchy who point to the fact that, as tenants of the London Stadium, the club is not responsible for match-day stewarding.
West Ham vice-chair Karen Brady is due to meet with Mr Khan next week to discuss concerns.
It appears any attempt to pass the blame, however, will fall on deaf ears.
Mr Khan told talkSPORT: “I have been to many events at the stadium where not only has the sport been phenomenal, it has been safe and secure. That begs the question: what are West Ham doing differently?”
The Mayor of London took over the stadium’s finances in December, claiming a “catalogue of errors” had led to the taxpayer losing tens of millions of pounds.
It stemmed from the spiralling cost of transforming the venue for football after the Olympics in 2012 and the subsequent deal that secured West Ham a 99 year lease.
An independent report by accountants Moore Stephens also projected a £140m loss over the stadium’s first ten years.
West Ham pay £2.5m per season in rent, which will be halved if the team are relegated from the Premier League.
In her newspaper column in The Sun, Karren Brady described the events against Burnley as “one of the most painful days” in the club’s history, adding that nothing comes before the safety of supporters.
Mr Khan agrees: “Their priority has got to be safety and security and that is why it’s important for West Ham to get a grip.
“They have to. There is no alternative. We cannot have a situation where you have people invading the pitch and throwing missiles.”