West Ham United fear having to play their next home game, a crunch tie with fellow relegation threatened Southampton, behind closed doors because the Hammers can't guarantee supporter safety following the shocking scenes from the weekend's defeat against Burnley at the London Stadium.
The news comes after angry West Ham supporters invaded the London Stadium pitch during West Ham's 3-0 home defeat to Burnley on Saturday, while a large number of supporters expressed their anger to the West Ham directors' box where fans abused owners David Gold and David Sullivan. The latter was struck by a coin as fans hurled missiles.
At an emergency meeting of stakeholders called by West Ham following Saturday's mayhem, the club will press to have security measures taken out of the hands of LS185, the company who operate the stadium on a day-to-day basis and who are responsible for all stewarding and security at the London Stadium.
The way the stadium's operation is handled gives West Ham no control over their own security arrangements, meaning they cannot offer the necessary assurances to the fans that the next home match against Southampton on March 31 will pass without major incident. The Premier League, however, fear the game could be abandoned in the event of public disorder, leading to talk of it being played behind closed doors.
West Ham feel that with LS185 in charge of security they cannot give any guarantees to fans regarding safety given the violent climate and the poor response to Satuday's chaos. The Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), who are responsible for proposing safety measures, will also attend the meeting.
SGSA will propose a reduction in the ground's capacity for the next game, particularly in the areas where the trouble broke out and around the West Ham director box, where fans aimed abuse and 'missiles' at the West Ham owners, David Gold and David Sullivan (via Daily Mail).
The West Ham directors were appalled by the reaction to the trouble, with captain Mark Noble and Burnley's Ashley Barnes forced to intervene against pitch invaders. On a good note for West Ham, Noble will not face any disciplinary action after Saturday's referee, Lee Mason, noted that he saw the incident and chose a common sense approach to allow Noble to stay on the pitch. The Football Association, however, are investigating the wider chaos at the London Stadium.
West Ham, who sit 16th on the Premier League table and only three points from the relegation zone, return to Premier League action against Southampton on the 31st of March in what could prove to be a crucial match for Premier League safety; as the Saints sit only one position and two points behind the Hammers in the race for safety.
West Ham go into the clash with Southampton in horrible from having won only one of their last seven games including three straight defeats as the 'new manager bounce' seems to be fading, following David Moyes' brilliant start to his West Ham managerial career.