A coalition of major fan groups and independent content creators at West Ham United has come together to condemn the club’s attempt to monetise fan engagement.
Back in April, West Ham United became first English club to partner with socios.com - a digital platform that uses blockchain to provide paid-for supporter engagement.
Supporters will be able to buy “Fan Tokens” from Socios which gives fans the ability to vote on selected “club decisions, earn club rewards and compete for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
However, exact details on what decisions will be taken via the platform have not yet been released.
Now a supporters’ coalition at West Ham United has publicly criticised the club’s deal with Socios and launched the “Don’t Pay To Have Your Say” campaign .
Nick from WestHamTV said: “Very soon Socios will be asking for your money for a chance to vote. In other words, for a chance to have an opinion.
“The chance to have a say on the football team that has been amongst our community for almost 125 years. The club you’ve gone up and down the country to support, the club you have given your heart to – very soon you’ll have to pay to vote.
“If we allow this to happen unchallenged it opens another door for the powers to be to fleece us again.”
So far the “Don’t Pay To Have Your Say” campaign has been backed by KUMB.com; Crossed Hammers; Flump9TV; Hammers Chat; Hammers United; JPWHUTV; Long Live The Boleyn (Facebook); The H List; The West Ham Way; Sex, Drugs & Carlton Cole; West Ham Fan Zone; West Ham Gossip; West Ham Online; WHFTV and West Ham United Independent Supporters Association.
Back in May, the FSA criticised West Ham United’s partnership with Socios – arguing that it undermined the progress made on supporter-club dialogue by attempting to monetise fan engagement.
Since 2016, clubs have been required to meet with their supporters to discuss club matters under Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) guidelines. This "structured dialogue" is now in the English Football League (EFL) and Premier League rulebooks.
The FSA’s forerunners, the FSF and Supporters Direct, were part of the Government’s Expert Working Group that created these guidelines on supporter engagement and have been tracking their implementation at clubs across the country.
FSA chief exec Kevin Miles said: “We worked qclosely with the Premier League, FA, EFL and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to create a set of recommendations which all league and clubs adopted to greater or lesser extent.
“They included many principles around how clubs and leagues should engage with supporters along open, democratic lines.
“The Socios model runs counter to that as it attempts to monetise fan engagement which the leagues and clubs have committed to doing for free.
“There should be no financial barriers to engaging with your football club.”