There has been growing dissatisfaction over recent months from the fans of West Ham United.

The volume of criticism has coincided with the 10th anniversary of the present owners David Sullivan and David Gold taking over the club. A revealing statistic is that the club stood at 16th in the Premier League when Sullivan and Gold took over in 2010, the very same position they found themselves in on the anniversary date last month.

So to the objective onlooker it looks as though the club has made little progress on the pitch in that time. Meanwhile, off the pitch, the club has moved from the old Boleyn Ground in Green Street to the Olympic Stadium, since renamed the London Stadium. The crowds have gone from 35,000 to 60,000.

Prior to the move, West Ham chief executive Karen Brady promised a world class stadium and a world class team. The fans now question both claims. The team is certainly not world class, sitting as it does now in the relegation zone.

Many fans will question where the team might have finished over the past four seasons, had the team remained at the Boleyn rather than moving to the London Stadium. The new home has certainly never resembled a fortress in the way that the Boleyn did, with the failure to get results there becoming the club’s Achilles heel.

The owners have invested in the team to the tune of £210 million over the past four years but the returns have not been good. Managers have been changed regularly, with the latest move seeing David Moyes return to take over from Manuel Pellegrini. Previously, Moyes had got the team out of relegation trouble in 2018, only to be passed over for Pellegrini when it came to a permanent appointment in the job.

Things had seemed to be on the up with Pellegrini last year, playing exciting football and securing a top 10 finish. But after a promising start it all seemed to come apart this year, with Pellegrini sacked and replaced by Moyes in December.

The owners and fans now need to get behind Moyes and the players if they are to survive in the Premiership.

However, events at West Ham betray bigger problems with football in the modern age. Fans, it would seem, are becoming more and more sidelined. Television money dictates all in the Premiership. The TV companies select the games, which can then be on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays or Mondays to suit the schedules. Take the TV money away and football is a very different game.

West Ham have made efforts to make football cheaper for fans but the game still remains incredibly expensive. The average price to watch football of £50 plus make it a very expensive pursuit. Given the billions flowing in from TV, the game could easily be made more affordable for the average person.

The players are paid incredible sums of money to kick a ball around a field. West Ham’s wage bill is over £135 million, with many players earning upward of £80,000 a week. While the players are due their cut of the huge TV money, surely a bit of readjustment toward the fans would not go amiss.

Put simply, football has tipped too far away from the fans toward TV companies and corporate interests. It is only in the lower leagues that the fundamentals of football, including the bond between fans and players, remains strong. At Premier League level these links are being broken, amid a game that is rapidly losing its soul.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See