In a refreshing change of events, former Birmingham City owners, David Gold and David Sullivan took control of the Hammers and admitted straightaway the mess that West Ham United have been battling with. Since the crashing collapse of the Icelandic banking system, West Ham had been financially stricken and the true extent of the footballing debt is now apparent. The Hammers owe £110 million out. One Hundred and Ten Million pounds.
Only in November did C.B. Holdings claim that the Hammers were in debt to the tune of £38 million, misleading the fans in to thinking that the situation was nowhere near as bad as some in the media had reported. In fact it was almost 3 times as bad as they made out and the new owners/controllers made clear exactly where they debts lay. They also confirmed that the club were going to have to sell players in this transfer window, contrary to the clubs previous stance. An immediate cash injection of £8 million was needed to keep the club going.
The list reads like a what not to do in football, or to put it another way, how to run a club like Leeds United. It’s as if someone wrote a business plan based on what went wrong at Elland Road and it was mistranslated into Icelandic to make it seem positive. It’s madness to see the debt and borrowing going on at West Ham over the last 3 years.
- £50 million owed to banks.
- £40 million owed to other clubs for transfers.
- The £40 million owed to other clubs, includes £20 million compensation to Sheffield United.
- Alan Curbishley is still owed his severance deal after winning his case for constructive dismissal
- No-one owes West Ham any money, all player transfer fees that were received paid the bank debt immediately
- C.B. Holdings had borrowed money against the next two seasons season ticket revenue
- There is no money for strengthening the squad.
Now this paints a completely different figure to what the West Ham fans believed, rightly or wrongly what the were being told. The previous regime were filling there heads with nonsense. It is a very real prospect that relegation would have seen West Ham implode financially. No ifs, no buts, they were immediately into administration. After all the information about Leeds United, C.B. Holdings were following exactly the same route.
It seems like absolute madness that not one lesson from the Yorkshire clubs demise has served to teach anyone anything it seems, as we see with the issues at Manchester United, Portsmouth and Liverpool in the last week. Regardless of the riches awash for the Premiership clubs, you still have to cut your cloth accordingly. Someone sooner or later is going to fall over the edge, which is a subject I’m going to be looking at in more depth for EPLtalk.com next week.
Gold and Sullivan have acted quickly in bringing in their trusted lieutenant, Karen Brady as vice chairman and she’ll be quick to install some much needed pragmatism at Upton Park. They are now going to talk to Newham council about moving to the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Olympics. That could be a challenge as Tottenham enquired about taking it over and were plainly told it was not available. The Olympic stadium is set to be reduced from its 80,000 capacity down to a pointless 30,000, for which there is neither the use nor the need.
The NFL could still play a part in the stadium’s future use that could play into West Ham’s hands. The NFL have earmarked that the often mooted London franchise’s potential base could be there. It would certainly make more sense to use it as a dual sport stadium than a white elephant for athletics, which is the current plan. There is neither the inclination or support for that size of athletics venue in London, they should sell it and use the money to redevelop Crystal Palace Athletic Stadium.
So now, West Ham have to focus on the future and the fans will be thankful that regardless of the criticisms that could be placed at Gold and Sullivan’s door during their tenure at Birmingham City, they still have a club to support. The work is now on to bring in fresh investment to try and work off the remaining debt and crucial to that is the fact that West Ham United need to stay up.
Gianfranco Zola has been nothing but a gentlemen throughout this difficult period for him and he needs to make sure that he can keep his side together for one almighty relegation scrap. For a first job, he has certainly been earning his money, of that there is no doubt. In the next six games, West Ham face Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Burnley, Birmingham City and Hull City. Come the end of February, Gold, Sullivan and Zola will know exactly the size of the task to keep West Ham United in the Premier League.
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