London (AFP) – West Ham will erect a security barrier near the directors’ box at the London Stadium to prevent a repeat of recent crowd trouble as captain Mark Noble urged fans to unite behind the relegation-threatened club.
Almost 20 supporters have been issued with lifetime bans following unsavoury scenes during the 3-0 defeat by Burnley on March 10, which left the Hammers just two points above the relegation zone.
Five fans invaded the pitch while hundreds more gathered on the concourse below the executive seats to protest against joint owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
They were eventually forced to leave their seats for their own safety, with Sullivan struck by a coin.
As well as the barrier, extra police and stewarding will also be in place for Saturday’s home match against Southampton, with West Ham insisting the safety of supporters is of paramount importance.
Noble has pleaded with fans to behave, saying the scenes earlier this month had a negative effect on the players.
A further protest has been planned outside the ground before kick-off, but Noble has urged the fans to get behind the team during the match or face the prospect of dropping into the Championship.
Writing on the club’s website on Tuesday, the long-serving midfielder said: “Our last home game against Burnley was one of my toughest days in nearly 20 years at West Ham, and I never want to see scenes like that again. None of us do.”
“We need everyone to be together and to be behind the team, because positive vibes really do inspire the players on the pitch,” he added.
“On the flip side, negativity can undoubtedly affect players’ concentration and confidence, as I believe it did in the second half against Burnley.”
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady had a 45-minute meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday as both parties try to ensure there are no more disturbances.
Victory for the hosts would give them a five-point advantage over Southampton with just seven matches remaining.
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