West Ham's move from Upton Park, its home for 112 years, to London Stadium, site of the 2012 London Olympic track & field competition, three miles down the road offered the Hammers a bigger home
for their fans -- 60,000 for soccer at London Stadium as compared to 35,000 at their old venue -- and was supposed to offer all the trappings of a modern stadium.
But the move to London
Stadium has started badly as West Ham home games against Watford, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have been marred by violence. Things took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when trouble broke out at the
Hammers' London derby against Chelsea.
Because of recent trouble, an alcohol ban was imposed and security beefed up for the game. Thirty fans were prevented from entering the stadium.
Still, fans from the two teams clashed, and riot police were called into the concourse. Ripped-up seats, bottles and coins were tossed during the game won by West Ham United, 2-1. Seven fans
were arrested, and authorities said rioting fans caught on videotape face stadium bans.
An eight-year-old girl sitting in the disabled section was pelted by seven coins.
were watching the game in the front row near to the home fans," Paul Streeter
, the father and a Chelsea fan, told the BBC
"Suddenly there's a whole load of coins coming over. Other kids were hit, it was not just my daughter. Victoria
has been going to football since she was two, she's never experienced violence
like this before or the aggression we have had to suffer. We want to take this matter further. It is disgusting."
West Ham is only a tenant and said the stadium owner, London Stadium 185,
has not been staffing enough stewards at the game. Metropolitan Police have refused to deploy officers in the stadium for safety reasons because the radio system used to communicate won't be fully
functional until early next year. (They did send in riot police on Wednesday.)
If trouble continues, Conservative MP Mark Field told the Evening Standard
that the Hammers should
play their games behind closed doors. Is it possible to end the violence?
Former West Ham player Tony Gale
said London Stadium was poorly designed to handle soccer, describing it
as "a powder keg."
"The club have got real problems with the stadium," he told talkSPORT
. "It wasn't built with segregation
in mind. There are so many entrances that it's like a powder keg. I feel for West Ham because you'd have to have thousands of police to stop any trouble happening, but they've got to try and do
something about it."