West Ham blame 'racist' fan for dinner brawl

17 May 2011 06:32
ShareWest Ham striker Demba Ba has accused a West Ham fan of 'racism' as a row at the end-of-season dinner brawl plumbed their disastrous season to new depths.

Angry scenes marred the ?275-a-head dinner at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday night.

Scott Parker swept the board for awards, but the evening will be remembered for all the wrong reasonsafter an unsightly brawl.

Centre of attention: Frederic Piquionne (left) and Demba Ba pose with an unidentified fan

Flashpoint: Police talk to security staff at the London Grosvenor House hotel after trouble flared at the West Ham end-of-season gala dinner

        HAVE YOUR SAY.     Who do you think is to blame for West Ham's slump? West Ham will play Championship football next season after they suffered an agonising defeat at relegation rivals Wigan on Sunday. Manager Avram Grant has already been sacked by the board, while Scott Parker will lead the exodus. But who do you think is responsible? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Trouble flared after Ba was involved in an altercation with a supporter at the swanky hotel function.

Ba told talkSPORT: 'It was a crazy situation. This guy came to me when we were sitting at the table. There were two players per table and Manuel Da Costa was with me.

'This guy came and asked for an autograph so I gave him his autograph. Then he asked me nicely how I was feeling so I just said I was tired from the game yesterday and that it was a tough game. And then he just replied "Oh, we're tired watching you play every weekend".

'I was surprised and told Da Costa what the guy had said. Then the guy all of a sudden started screaming at me like crazy. I tried to calm him down but he didn't want to. He kept on screaming, then some players came and pushed me out of there.

'They just told me to walk away and tried to calm this guy but he didn't want to calm down and started smashing some tables and glasses.

'Henrita Ilunga was sitting on the table next to me. He is a calm guy so I just said come and try to calm this guy but he started insulting me. So I got up to show I'm not impressed at all by him but this guy was a bit drunk.

'When my team-mates saw me they came between us. Danny Gabbidon came and said sit down so I sat down and they tried to talk to him but he didn't want to talk to anybody.

'When he talked to me I didn't understand everything that he said but the people next to me said he was saying racist things and stuff. When Gabbidon heard these words he came and tried to talk to him but this guy didn't want to listen and started insulting Gabbidon as well.'

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan told Sky Sports News: 'The whole incident has been blown out of all proportion. It was one individual who had too much to drink, sadly a problem in British society.

'Aplayer was racially abused by the same drunken supporter, which is not acceptable. Sadly one drunken supporter let the club down.'

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: 'We were called at 9.15pm to reports of a disturbance at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. Officers attended. There were no offences alleged and no arrests.'

All white on the night? Karren Brady arrives with her husband Paul Peschisolido

Calm before the storm: west Ham co-chairman David Gold arrives at London's Grosvenor House hotel for the club's end of season gala dinner on Monday night

Red mist: David Sullivan is welcomed to the party from his giant Bentley

A spokeswoman for the Grosvenor House Hotel said they would be making no comment regarding the events.

Officials from the relegated club tried to brush off the incident, claiming the supporters involved were known troublemakers. But the ugly scenes piled more misery on the club just 24 hours after losing their top-flight status.

Securityguards rushed to defuse the situation as punches and plates were thrownand tables turned over, before the unruly supporters were ushered out of the room.

Celebrity supporter, Sky Sports presenter Ben Shephard - the host for the evening - and co-owner David Gold made desperate appeals for calm while fans fled the hotel to avoid any harm. Two police cars were sent to the scene.

No worries: Mark Noble and Robbie Keane are all smiles as they leave the dinner in a taxi

West Ham players had been instructed to attend the event, which attracted 750 guests, and warned by letter they would face a fine of a week's wages if they failed to comply, although Carlton Cole and Robert Green were excused - Cole because of a neck injury and goalkeeper Green because his wife is due to give birth at any time.

The incident was an unwelcome distraction from appointing a new manager to replace Avram Grant, who was sacked little more than an hour after Sunday's 3-2 defeat by Wigan, which ensured relegation.

Sullivan broke his silence on the sacking, saying: 'Avram is a lovely person but the results speak for themselves. It was a bad selection by the board.

Glum: West Ham's Jack Collison (left) and Julien Faubert arrive for the end-of-season awards dinner

'We all share some of the blame for the results - the board, the manager and theteam. However, the team can only play the tactics and formation they are asked to play. We want a manager who will get the best out of the squad and foster a strong team spirit.

Sullivan also moved to ease fears that relegation from the top flight would have dire financial implications for the club.

'Debts will fall as we [the owners] will put in more money,' he said. 'The financial burden to us and our families will rise, not the debts of the club.'

Sad end: Police guard outside the hotel after West Ham's dinner

Fellow owner Gold is adamant the next manager should have the right credentials to lead the team back into the Premier League.

Hesaid: 'The sooner the better because we have a lot of work to do - an enormous amount of work - but we mustn't be rushed. This will be a very,very important appointment.'

The club have drawn up a short-list of five managers they believe can lead them back into the Barclays Premier League.

Martin O'Neill remains the preferred choice, but Sportsmail can reveal that Norwich City's Paul Lambert, Cardiff's Dave Jones and out-of-work bosses Sam Allardyce and Steve McClaren are also being considered.

Central figure: Striker Demba Ba is said to have faced abuse from supporters at the dinner after refusing an autograph

 Martin Samuel: Avram Grant was hopeless but buck has to stop with Gold and SullivanWest Ham fire sale: Who will be on their way and for how much?Arsenal make early move for Parker as West Ham fire sale beginsAll the latest West Ham news, features and opinion

 Explore more:People: Martin O'Neill, Jack Collison, Robert Green, Paul Lambert, Carlton Cole, Sam Allardyce, David Sullivan, David Gold, Ben Shephard, Steve McClaren, Danny Gabbidon Places: London, Cardiff

Source: Daily_Mail