West Ham United co-chairman David Gold has defended under-fire Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, saying that any threats and violent protests against football executives "cannot be tolerated".
The 83-year-old has endured a barrage of criticism during his decade-long reign as West Ham co-owner, with supporters staging protests both inside and outside of the London Stadium in recent years at what they perceive to be a string of broken promises, as well as the upheaval of the club from the Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium.
But Gold is not the only one under the microscope of late, with Manchester United supremo Woodward also facing an abundance of abuse from supporters. The Red Devils executive's home was recently targeted by thugs throwing flares and smoke bombs, while vile chants about Woodward have also been heard at recent United games.
Now, the West Ham co-owner says enough is enough, telling BBC Sport that he sympathises with Woodward's experiences, a day after the Premier League announced that fans who behave in an "unacceptable" manner towards players, supporters, club employees or referees will face a league-wide ban.
"I know exactly what Ed's experienced. I've experienced it four or five times myself," Gold said.
"What you've got to understand is that it is by a minute percentage, a couple of hundred people.
In my mind you've got a couple of hundred belligerents who want to, metaphorically, burn your house down. And those 200 will gather people who are listening, or walking by and wonder what it is all about.
"The league will come together as a unit to protect the likes of Ed and punish those perpetrators. It cannot be tolerated. Manchester United are a big club, Ed Woodward is a big figure in the game. He cannot be worried about his wife and children."
Gold continued by acknowledging that West Ham have had problems lately, but insists that he, Sullivan and vice-chairman Karren Brady have made some tough but necessary decisions.
"Do I look like I'm in it for profit?" he added. "I'm the kid who grew up in a life of poverty and used to bunk into West Ham. I have not received a penny in salary or expenses from West Ham in 10 years. I know of owners or chief executives that are earning £3m a year.
"All my young life, the club was in the old Second Division. We are in the Premier League now. OK, we've got a few problems but overall we're moving upwards. There have been a few difficulties with the stadium but the one we have now holds 60,000.
"The story is that we are liars. That we have taken all the money. That is wrong. We are not liars. We have made mistakes. David Sullivan is not a bad person. He wants the club to be successful. Karren Brady works her socks off for the football club. And then you read these terrible things."
Source : 90min