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Communicator of the Week: Stephen Hunt

According to the Forbes list of the most valuable football clubs in the world, West Ham United are worth $542 million. That makes them the 17th richest football club globally. If you are a West Ham fan, or perhaps better still one of the owners, your smile will grow even larger with the news that the club now plays its football at a brand new all-seater stadium that hosts 60,000 in comfort including over 3,500 in luxury boxes. The smile may become a hearty laugh with the final revelation that this stadium has cost the club nothing to build and the rent is a tiny £2.5million a year - little wonder Arsene Wenger, manager of rival club Arsenal, compared the deal to winning the lottery.

So things are fine and dandy at 'The Hammers'. Life is good. Unless you are one of their ladies footballers who, it emerged this week, play in last year’s kit, pay their own way to games and train next to busy main roads because they aren’t allowed access to the club gym. While the men are living the life of international superstars the club’s women are living the life of pub footballers while still being expected to represent their club and its global brand.

The rise in prominance of ladies football over the last few years has resulted in a women’s premier league being set up which is where West Ham United Ladies compete. While not the highest standard of women’s football - for that seek out the Women’s Super League - a number of big name football brands are represented in this competition. It is run by the Football Association (FA) who receive sponsorship from international businesses such as Nike and Continental. It is a sport certainly on the up and growing fast.

Why then were West Ham allowing their ladies team to be run in such an amateur way, is one question that springs to mind. Why was a sexist attitude allowed to prevail, is another. This week though I want to concentrate on a positive and the actions of Stephen Hunt, chairman of West Ham Ladies, who became so exasperated with his teams treatment at the hands of the parent club that he made a formal complaint of sex discrimination to the FA and gave a robust interview to the BBC.

Sometimes you just have to break some eggs and hope that an omelette will be the end result I suppose. Well, less than a day after the complaint was made West Ham United have taken the ladies team “in house” and, one assumes from their statement issued far and wide will give the ladies full use of the professional facilities of the 17th richest football club in the world. For that I make Stephen Hunt, chairman of West Ham Ladies, my Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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