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Ian Wright: West Ham fans have every right to protest, but supporters were bang out of order following pitch invasion

Written by The Sun Co.Uk

LET’S get one thing clear — the West Ham fans who invaded the pitch on Saturday were bang out of order. There are no excuses, no strength of feeling can justify that. And the bottom line, the most crucial point, is that it will only damage the team’s chances in the game itself. But while […]

LET’S get one thing clear — the West Ham fans who invaded the pitch on Saturday were bang out of order.

There are no excuses, no strength of feeling can justify that.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has criticised the West Ham fans following their pitch invasion
Reuters
A fan clashed with Hammers midfielder Mark Noble during the defeat against Burnley
Getty Images - Getty

And the bottom line, the most crucial point, is that it will only damage the team’s chances in the game itself.

But while I will never condone running on, equally I will never dispute the supporters’ right to protest. And those Hammers fans have had more reason than most.

That’s why the club’s owners have got to take a long look at themselves, too. Take a long look at how it has come to this.

And a long look at whether they have been true to their word.

When West Ham made the move to Stratford, co-chairman David Sullivan was very vocal in promising big-money, marquee signings.

A West Ham supporter attempted to plant the corner flag on the halfway line
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James Collins confronts a pitch invader as tensions boiled over at the London Stadium
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There were vows of taking the Hammers to new heights. Of how they could, hopefully, nudge their way in among the top dogs.

Yet a quick glance at their transfer business of late suggests anything but that. January, for example, was supposed to herald a couple of big-name arrivals.


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Instead, they got Joao Mario on a short-term loan deal from Inter Milan, Jordan Hugill from Preston and out-of-contract 36-year-old Patrice Evra on a free.

Yes, I know they spent £24million to sign Marko Arnautovic in the summer, and the likes of Evra, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez have all been very good players.

But the latter pair are past their prime and Arnautovic — while he is clearly very talented — can’t win things on his own.

West Ham, don’t forget, are the 17th richest club in the world.

London is one of the most attractive cities in the world. They have never been the worst payers around.

So tempting players — and I mean real top-liners — to the club isn’t exactly the toughest sell going. So why aren’t they managing to bring them in? Fans were sold the dream of competing with the Premier League’s elite when they left Upton Park.

But that won’t come without the owners putting their hands in their pockets.

It means spending money — and with the TV millions alone, they are hardly short — yet there has been no real sign of it.

West Ham co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan were among the targets of the protests by fans
West Ham co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan were among the targets of the protests by fans
MATTHEW CHILDS

Dimitri Payet is a superstar and he was sold. Andre Ayew isn’t but is still decent, and he was sold — to relegation rivals Swansea.

These are players they should be keeping and adding to, not letting slip through their fingers.

Those upstairs have got to shoulder much of the blame for that.

A net spend of around £30m this season will not get you anywhere these days.

Nowhere but closer to the Championship.

And don’t forget, they didn’t have to fund their own new stadium like Arsenal did and Spurs are having to.

Pitch invaders and fan protests marred Burnley’s 3-0 win against West Ham
AFP or licensors

West Ham have always had a very emotionally-charged support and I’m hugely sympathetic of what they are going through.

They may not have taken me totally to their hearts when I was there but they were good to me — and they are as passionate as you will find.

But my message would be: protest by all means but you have to do it constructively.

It has to be through discussions, meetings and, above all, peaceful.

What those fans did on Saturday turned the spotlight on them, when it should be burning brightly on the owners.

If it isn’t done in the right manner, those promises of taking West Ham to another level have every chance of coming true.

Just in the wrong direction.

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