West Ham to erect security barrier to prevent further crowd trouble

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West Ham will erect a security barrier near the directors’ box at the London Stadium for Saturday’s visit of Southampton to prevent a repeat of the crowd trouble which marred their last match.

Almost 20 supporters have now been issued with lifetime bans following the shameful scenes during the 3-0 defeat by Burnley on March 10.

Five fans invaded the pitch while hundreds more gathered on the concourse below the executive seats to protest against David Sullivan and David Gold.

The joint-owners were eventually forced to leave their seats for their own safety, with Sullivan being struck by a coin.

Press Association Sport understands Sullivan and Gold intend to be at the match, a crucial one in West Ham’s battle against relegation, and the barrier will stop supporters getting too close to the directors’ box.

One fan has complained that he has been moved from his seat in the disabled section to make way for the barrier, but West Ham have explained that is only a possibility and even then the temporary measure would affect only three wheelchair seats.

Extra police and stewarding will also be in place, with West Ham insisting the safety of supporters is of paramount importance.

Captain Mark Noble has pleaded with fans to behave after the events in the stands clearly affected the players on the pitch.

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, long-serving midfielder Noble 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.

“I desperately want us to do well and for everyone to be happy, players and fans, but that day was one which none of us can look back on with any pride.

“We need everyone to be together and to be behind the team, because positive vibes really do inspire the players on the pitch.

“On the flip side, negativity can undoubtedly affect players’ concentration and confidence, as I believe it did in the second half against Burnley.

“I can understand the frustrations some of you are feeling. This season has not gone how we’d all hoped it would, but I would ask you to channel your passion to get behind the team, help us get through the season with our Premier League status intact, and we can sit down and reassess things in the summer.”

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.

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