Parker, Green and Upson staying put
Last updated: 19th January 2010
New West Ham owner David Sullivan has reassured fans that none of the club's
best players will be sold in the transfer window. England stars Robert
Green, Scott Parker and Matthew Upson were being linked with exits from the
relegation-threatened side. Despite revealing that the Hammers are saddled
with more than £100million in debts, Sullivan has insisted the club will not
have to sell its best players. The former Birmingham owner, who has been
joined by co-chairman David Gold at the club, told Sky Sports: "The first
thing we needed to do was not to bring in new players, the first thing was
to make sure no players left. "Up until a month ago you constantly read and
saw on TV that the current owners would have to sell their best players to
stay in business. "We can reassure fans who were terrified that they were
going to lose two or three of the best players that that is now not going to
Sullivan has taken on a controlling 50 per cent stake in West Ham, with
Icelandic bank Straumur holding the remaining half. Along with Gold, the
pair sold their interest in Birmingham last year, having previously owned 27
per cent of the Hammers 22 years ago. But Sullivan believed they would not
have invested in West Ham this time around if they had not been fans. The
experienced businessman added: "We wouldn't buy this club at all if this
wasn't West Ham. It makes no commercial sense for anyone to buy this club
and it's amazing that two other people wanted to buy it. "One is another
West Ham supporter (Tony Fernandes) and the Italian (Massimo Cellino), I'm
not quite sure if he looked at the books properly, but if he looked at the
books he might have walked away. "We've paid down some of the debt and
injected some working capital but there's still more than £100million of
debt. "In that there's £50million owed to banks, there's £40million owed to
other clubs. There's not a penny to come in, they (the previous owners) have
borrowed against the next two years of season-ticket money. The sponsors
have paid 70 per cent of their three-years up front. "In addition there's
the club's settlement to (former manager) Alan Curbishley, so the real debt
is about £110million."
Sullivan has an option on buying the remaining shares, which will exist for
a four-year period. But his preferred option is to attract a team of wealthy
investors to help get the Hammers back on track. "We own 50 per cent of the
club but I have an option on the other 50. I would share that with David but
I would like to have four or five West Ham supporters with lots of money to
come in," he said. "The debts here are so large that most Englishmen can't
carry them so we would like to share them with others and help take West Ham
to the next level. "The bank Straumur own the other 50 per cent right now
and my option to buy is for anytime in the next four years. "Our preferred
option is that we find other people who want five or 10 per cent and we will
go to Tony Fernandes, who was one of the others interested in buying the
club. "If you imagine a government of national unity in national crisis this
is the board equivalent and we want people to come in and help dig the club
out of that. "Every stone you turn is a negative to the cash flow of the
club and viability of the club. "They (the recent regime) have done a
fantastic job of keeping the club alive but the cost is we are taking over
an incredibly bad situation.
"However, we will sort it out because we are good at it."
New Owners David Gold and David Sullivan Promise West Ham Honesty0
.19/1/2010 8:55 AM GMT By Jon West
David Gold and David Sullivan waited 20 years to take control of West Ham
and the supporters are now praying their successful pursuit of power at
Upton Park transforms the club's fortunes. Of the four interested parties
who tried to strike a deal with the club's bankrupt Icelandic banker owners,
it certainly seems the logical choice had been made.
The former Birmingham City owners, who have brought in Karren Brady, their
managing director at St Andrew's, have plenty of experience of the Premier
League. It can be argued they know what is needed, although Birmingham were
a yo-yo club when they were in charge, with even Sir Alex Ferguson
suggesting recently that Gold and Sullivan had been too frugal with their
cash. The criticism may yet apply at West Ham where funds have been promised
for manager Gianfranco Zola, who stays on despite strong rumours that Mark
Hughes had been lined up to replace him. Time will tell, but at least Gold
and Sullivan are making all the right noises. "We have short-term goals and
long-term goals," Sullivan declared. "In the short term, we want to stay in
the Premier League and in the long term we would like to be challenging for
the top four and Champions League football. "There will be some transfer
funds available to the manager this month. January is not the best time to
buy players - you don't get many bargains in January - but the club has such
an unbalanced squad, players will have to be bought, loaned or acquired.
"Myself and my partner David Gold will be honest with the fans about the
books, the imbalance of the squad and the crazy wages the Icelandic owners
paid out that has brought the club to its knees. But this is an important
day for us. For 20 years, this is the club we wanted."
Gold and Sullivan's success was also Tony Fernandes's disappointment. The
airline magnate, who heads the Lotus F1 team, is also a West Ham fan, albeit
one who hails from the Far East rather than the East End. He pulled out on
Monday, having failed to engineer a deal to take the club over completely -
Gold and Sullivan have bought only a 51 per cent stake in a club valued at
£105million - and made a statement on his Twitter page expressing his
regrets but also his hopes that the new men will come good. "Deal lost on
West Ham," he tweeted. "Hopefully new owners protect what's good. We gave
awesome deal and new ideas to rejuvenate a club and bring excitement."
Italian Massimo Cellino was a late entrant to the bidding war but his
criminal past meant he was always unlikely to make it to the top and so it
proved. The finance firm Intermarket was the fourth party and for a long
time appeared to be close to striking a deal. But perhaps that was a
blessing in disguise as the club's brush with the money markets, albeit the
Icelandic ones, ended in nothing but debt and disaster. Gold and Sullivan
are likely to be safer hands on the tiller. They won't spend big because
they can't ,but they won't gamble on West Ham's future either. "We're
taking on a huge task at a club with enormous problems and it will take time
for us to turn it around," Sullivan declared. Few would argue with that
Gold: it's good to be home
Filed: Tuesday, 19th January 2010
By: Staff Writer
New Hammers joint Chairman David Gold has told reporters that he is
delighted to have won the race to buy his local club. Gold, who along with
business partner David Sullivan was confirmed as the club's new owner in the
early hours of this morning was speaking as he arrived at the ground in
advance of this lunchtime's press conference to announce the change in
ownership. "It feels pretty good - it feels like I'm coming home," he said.
""My old house is just along the road - number 442. Not 451, I'm a 442 man!"
Gold - who bought the oldest surviving FA Cup trophy at auction in 2005,
which now resides in the National Football museum in Preston - is thought to
have taken a back seat during recent negotiations but will take up a joint
Chairman role along with Sullivan. Karren Brady is expected to be named Vice
Chairman whilst current CEO Scott Duxbury's future role remains unclear,
although reports emerging this morning suggesting that he has resigned from
his post are wide of the mark.
Goodbye, Boleyn Ground
Filed: Tuesday, 19th January 2010
By: Staff Writer
David Sullivan has signalled his intention to take West Ham away from it's
spiritual Upton Park home - in order to rent the Olympic Stadium. Irons fans
could be set to wave goodbye to the Boleyn Ground, where West Ham have
played since the turn of the 20th century, if Sullivan's plans prove
successful. Talking in today's press conference, Sullivan admitted that the
move was central to his bid for the club. Given the club's massive debts -
estimated to be worth around £110million by Sullivan - it could be that the
Irons are left with very little choice but to part company with the stadium
which they have owned outright since purchasing the grounds from the
Catholic Church, who had initially let the ground to the football club since
they first moved in back in 1904. "We're going to have to find new money,
raise new money," Sullivan said. "It's a major part of our strategy that
West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium. "It's three miles from this ground, in
the Borough of Newham - we're in the Borough of Newham. If we had a huge
ground we could take football back to the people. We could reduce admission
prices to prices that people can afford because we'd have the capacity to do
it. "We could have the cheapest Premier League prices in the country - and
that is all part of our strategy."
When asked about the chances of Sullivan's vision being realised, he
replied: I would say that in this moment in time, you'd have to speak to
other people - but if it's not better than 50/50 I'd be very surprised. "I
cannot comprehend how a Government can build a ground and then reduce it to
25,000 for rugby which would be empty, probably getting gates [of] around
5,000. How can you spend a huge amount of money to build a stadium to then
smash it down? It makes no sense. "There is a precedent at Manchester City
who got the Commonwealth games stadium, so why shouldn't West Ham, in the
Borough of Newham, get the Olympic stadium? The logic says we should get it
- but whether we will or not is another thing."
West Ham keen to move into London Olympic stadium
Premier League club West Ham would have to keep a running track if they want
to move into the Olympic Stadium after the Games, London 2012 has said. New
West Ham owner David Sullivan said the east London club does want to leave
Upton Park for the Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford. London Mayor Boris
Johnson is also keen on a football club taking over the running costs of the
stadium. But the decision will have to be taken by the Olympic Park Legacy
Company. A London 2012 spokeswoman said: "The Olympic Park Legacy Company
(OPLC) are looking at the legacy of the Olympic Park, including the stadium.
"Everyone is clear that the stadium will have a running track in legacy but
additional sporting use is a matter for the OPLC." Mr Sullivan said: "It is
nice to get the club back in the hands of east Londoners and these are
exciting times. "We hope to persuade the government to let us move into the
new Olympic Stadium and I believe the people of east London would support
New West Ham owner David Sullivan calls for investors to aid club
David Sullivan will hold his first press conference as the new chairman -
and effective owner - of West Ham United today and will make a public appeal
for wealthy supporters of the club to help him buy the remaining 50 per cent
stake which is held by the Icelandic bank, Straumur.
By Jason Burt
Published: 11:12AM GMT 19 Jan 2010
David Sullivan has ambitious plans for West Ham. The former Birmingham City
co-owner completed his deal to buy half the club last night after talks with
the Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes collapsed. Details of the deal,
which values West Ham, including its debts, at £105 million, have not yet
been revealed but Sullivan will invest between £40 million and £50 million
with some of the money going to the creditors of former owner Bjorgolfur
Gudmundsson, some to pay off a portion of the debt and the rest to be
invested in the team.
XL Leisure fall leaves West Ham United owner facing major lossAs part of the
deal Sullivan - who has been given 'operating control' of the club although
he cannot make any significant financial investments without the approval of
Straumur - has an option to buy the remainder 50 per cent at a fixed price
at any point in the next four months. If he does not do so within that
timeframe then the price, it's understood, goes up.
Sullivan also reassured manager Gianfranco Zola that his job is safe
although, it's understood by the Daily Telegraph, he has twice approached
the former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes to see if he would eventually
consider taking over.
However after consultations, Sullivan accepts that Zola is not only a good
coach but a popular manager at the club and one who has not had sufficient
backing in the transfer market.
West Ham will now move quickly to try and strengthen their squad with
inquiries already being made for the Monaco striker Eidur Gudjohnsen and
Manchester City's Benjani Mwaruwari who have both been linked to the club in
the past. Both players are understood to be available.
Sullivan will also attempt to revive talks for West Ham to eventually move
into the Olympic Stadium - something that Fernandes also wanted to do - and
will even try and preserve the ground as an 80,000-capacity venue with plans
to provide cheap tickets for OAPs and the disadvantaged. He has dubbed West
Ham the "people's club".
Like Fernandes, Sullivan is a life-long West Ham supporter and he said he
has a seven-year plan to take the club into the Champions League - the
former chairman Eggert Magnusson also pledged to do this but Sullivan has
insisted he will not repeat the profligate spending of the Icelandic regime
although there will be significant investment.
"We have a seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League and turn
them into a big club and over the seven-year period we do plan to spend a
lot of money," Sullivan said. "The short-term plan is all about survival and
getting behind the team. It is also about getting behind the manager.
Categorically he (Zola) is staying," said Sullivan. "We will be sitting down
with him tonight to work on some transfer targets as we realise, as fans,
that the team needs a few additions."
Sullivan stressed that taking over West Ham was the fulfilment of a lifelong
football ambition. "We've got the club that we've always wanted," he said.
"We are West Ham fans and I don't think we would have bought West Ham if we
hadn't been fans as, from a business point of view, it is in a serious mess.
"But we are deeply and passionately involved with West Ham. David was
brought up opposite the West Ham ground. I was never popular with Birmingham
fans because I admitted I was doing a job there to the best of my ability.
West Ham is a club we've always wanted to own and we've come back. It is
nice to get the club back in the hands of east Londoners and these are
exciting times. We hope to persuade the government to let us move into the
new Olympic Stadium and I believe the people of east London would support
Sullivan will take over as chairman - replacing Andrew Bernhardt who had
been appointed when the company Cb Holding was created following
Gudmundsson's financial collapse - with David Gold also expected to join the
board and former Birmingham managing director Karren Brady appointed as a
two-day-a-week, part-time vice-chairman.
Double act will end drama at West Ham
For the last few years, West Ham United have rivalled TV's EastEnders in
their ability to move effortlessly from one crisis to the next. The East
London club have desperately needed stability, continuity and their new
owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, should provide that. One former
Premier League club executive put it this way today. "A Manchester City-type
takeover would have been the ideal scenario but they are few and far
between. "This has to be the next best thing. Having been at Birmingham for
more than 16 years, Sullivan and Gold know what it's like to run a club,
they don't throw their money around but they will bring stability. West Ham
need that more than anything else."
Ever since Eggert Magnusson arrived in East London in the early winter of
2006, West Ham have been one long soap opera and the global recession -
followed swiftly by former chairman, Icelandic businessman Bjorgolfur
Gudmundsson's spectacular financial meltdown - was the final straw. His
chief creditor, Icelandic bank Straumur, took over the reins and that
signalled a period of necessary austerity. With debts of close to
£40million, the huge wage bill had to be slashed and Gianfranco Zola's squad
cut to a minimum. Every transfer window signalled fresh speculation about
high-profile players leaving. Worst of all for the long-suffering fans was
that the club were in a vacuum. Up in the Midlands, all this was duly noted
by Birmingham's co-owners. Gold was a true East Ender, even playing for West
Ham as a youngster while Sullivan, though born in Cardiff, had been brought
up a few miles away from Upton Park, in Hornchurch. Having sold Birmingham
for £82m, they were looking for a new football interest, specifically West
Ham. It soon became clear that although Straumur had said they were prepared
to keep control of the club for at least three years until the financial
climate improved, they were ready to sell if the money was right. They
themselves had creditors to consider and although a moratorium on debts in
Iceland was extended, they knew it wouldn't stay that way. Other potential
investors were also attracted by, among other things, the renewed
possibility of selling Upton Park and moving to the nearby Olympic Stadium,
post 2012. There was Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia and principal of new
F1 motor racing team Lotus and Malaysia's equivalent of Richard Branson.
City-based Intermarket, who were still active at the 11th hour, were another
possibility while Italian Massimo Cellino made a late, abortive bid. The
Sullivan/Gold axis was always in place, though, there on the negotiating
table at Rothschilds Bank while the others tried to tie down backers. Now
that the other bidders have fallen by the wayside, what will they bring to
West Ham? Initially, an end to all the uncertainty and the threat of losing
key players such as Carlton Cole, Scott Parker and skipper Matthew Upson in
this transfer window. Judging from their time at Birmingham, it will not be
a regime of untapped largesse. Contrary to rumours, Zola will be staying.
That is a huge positive given the problems he has coped with cheerfully
since he took over.
Gold and Sullivan are shrewd business people and at Birmingham, their heads
invariably ruled their hearts. Back in their emotional heartland, though,
that could be more difficult.
David Sullivan admits West Ham are in an 'incredibly bad situation'
Purchase 'makes no sense commercially', admits Sullivan
Club had needed to raise £20m by summer without takeover
Marcus Christenson guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 January 2010 13.19 GMT
David Sullivan and David Gold have admitted they would not have taken over
West Ham United if they did not support the Hammers because "the club is in
an incredibly bad situation". The duo have bought 50% of the club and have
an option for the next four years to acquire the remaining 50%. But Sullivan
admitted the club was in "a mess". Sullivan said: "We're taking over an
incredibly bad situation. We wouldn't buy this club at all if it wasn't West
Ham. It makes no sense commercially. We bought this as fans, as supporters,
not from a business point of view. The club would have had to raise £8m in
this transfer window and £12m in the summer if they hadn't been bought."
Sullivan, who confirmed Gianfranco Zola will continue as the manager,
reckons West Ham's debt is currently at £110m. "We've got £50m owed to banks
and £40m owed to other clubs, including Sheffield United [for the Carlos
Tevez affair]," he said. "In addition, West Ham are not owed a single penny
by other clubs. The club has also borrowed against next season's ticket
money and then there is the Alan Curbishley settlement. Makes around £110m
in total. We've inherited these liabilities and we are going to have to work
through them. We need to do a lot of wheeling and dealing which we're good
David Gold added: "Fans were terrified they would lose their best players
but we can assure tham that is not going to happen."
The deal values West Ham at £105m and Sullivan and Gold have not ruled out
other investors coming in to purchase the remaining 50%. Sullivan said: "I
have an option over the next four years to buy the other 50%. Ideally we'd
like other West Ham supporters to come in and take that 50% off me. We would
like Tony Fernandes, who was one of the bidders, to come in and work with
Sullivan confirmed that Karren Brady, who was managing director at
Birmingham City, will become vice-chairman at Upton Park. Earlier he had
told Sky Sports that the club was in a "serious mess". "It is a serious mess
there but we are West Ham fans and it is nice to see that we beat off two
The former Birmingham co-owner revealed they are hoping to move into the
Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games and offered to put post-Olympic running
track at Upton Park in exchange. They would rent the Olympic stadium off the
government. "Manchester City got the Commonwealth Games stadium so why
shouldn't we get the Olympic Stadium," Sullivan asked.
Takeover born out of East End passion
By Kevin Palmer
It has become increasingly difficult to accept the notion that a new owner
at a Premier League club has anything more than his own interests at heart,
but the news that David Gold and David Sullivan have fulfilled their
long-held ambition with West Ham United is a genuine fairy story.
Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers, Liverpool and Notts County are just some of
the clubs that have been led to the brink of nowhere by new investors whose
promises have proved to be shallow in recent years, yet there is every
reason to hope the newest owners of a Premier League club will follow a
While many Birmingham fans curiously seem to despise the duo who gave their
club stability and Premier League success during their lengthy stint as
owners at St Andrew's, Gold and his long-time business partner Sullivan
represent the most positive signing West Ham have made in a decade of
despair at Upton Park.
With the club in financial meltdown and the team teetering on the brink of
relegation, the last thing West Ham needed was a maverick owner such as
rival bidder Massimo Cellino, so all Hammers fans should toast the news that
two of their own are at the helm of their club once again.
West Ham have long been a club proud of its East End roots and while
success-starved followers of Manchester City and Birmingham may be content
to associate themselves with foreigner owners, who could be in town merely
to massage their own egos, Gold and Sullivan are a very different type of
The vast wealth the two men have built up from modest beginnings is
testament to their immense business acumen, yet they appreciate football is
not a game you devote your life to in the hope of doubling your investment
when the time is right.
By throwing a small chunk of their fortunes into West Ham, Gold and Sullivan
fully appreciate that they are not going to add zeroes to their own bank
statements any time soon as they arrive at Upton Park at a moment when the
club is "in a financial mess", to use Sullivan's own words.
No, just for once, the Premier League has new owners who are a blast from
the past as they are taking over a club for all the right, romantic reasons.
Indeed, Gold and Sullivan are acquiring the club they love with the
intention of building it into the force it has rarely been throughout their
time supporting the Hammers. You may have feared such motives were from a
distant age for new investors in a football club and yet (unless I am
gullible or easily led) these two men have West Ham blood pumping through
My first meeting with Gold was back in the day when I was a contributor to
the West Ham matchday programme and it was decided we should investigate a
rumour that suggested the Birmingham chairman was a closet Hammer. Such a
tale was well worth chasing up when the next game on the fixture list was
Birmingham City at home.
The relish with which Gold took my call confirmed he was keen to talk about
his passion for West Ham as, 30 seconds after I spoke to his secretary at St
Andrew's, the Blues' chief was on the phone to reminisce about the good old
days at Upton Park. In fact, his passion for the Hammers patently
overshadowed the love he had for the club he was then leading.
"I know my loyalties are to Birmingham and I don't want to come across as
being disrespectful to the people at this club, but the truth is I have
always been a massive West Ham follower," he said. "I was brought up
idolising the Hammers and it has always been one of my great regrets that
the chance to pull on the famous West Ham shirt and enjoy a career as a
player with the club passed me by.
"I'll never forget the day the call came for me to have a trial with West
Ham and things went very well for me. The offer of a permanent contract was
coming my way until my father stepped in as he didn't believe playing
football was the right way to make a living. My moment had passed and in a
way, I never really got over it.
"I played at Upton Park on several occasions and one great memory was
scoring the winner for London Youth against Glasgow Youth in a 2-1 victory
back in 1953. I was a nippy left-winger and could have done well in the
game, but you need the odd break along the way and my father got in my way.
It was a tragedy for me, especially as West Ham were the club involved, but
I have been fortunate to go on and make a success of my career despite
There speaks a man with a love for West Ham and, while there appears to be
some resentment from Hammers fans at the prospect of Gold and Sullivan
arriving in their manor, the alternatives were far less appealing. Would
this great old club really want another of those overseas wannabes littering
their doorstep and causing havoc right now? Or how about a few more of those
Icelandic investors promising world domination in double-quick time?
Surely this is a moment when local football men and not unpredictable
outsiders are required to steady a rocking Hammers ship and, in Gold and
Sullivan, that is exactly what West Ham have found, with the loyalties of
the former in this well-established sporting double act unquestionable.
"When I took over at Birmingham, the game at Upton Park was always one I
would look forward to and my mum was no different," adds Gold. "She still
lives very close to the ground and I wanted to make sure she was well looked
after when Birmingham played West Ham and it was lovely to see her enjoying
that occasion in the boardroom with a nice cup of tea.
"The trouble was Birmingham and West Ham always seemed to play important
games against each other during my time at St Andrew's. I remember the
infamous game when West Ham came to our place needing a win to try and save
their Premiership lives. In the end, they went down with a ridiculously high
total of 42 points and I have to say it broke my heart to see it happen.
"I also recall a fixture many years ago when West Ham needed to beat
Birmingham to secure promotion to the Premier League and they did it with a
couple of late goals. They were momentous matches and maybe I have always
been destined to be linked with the Hammers after all."
Any West Ham follower unsure of Gold's love for their club merely need to
get a sense for the passion he oozes from his each and every word and, let's
not forget, he was speaking in the days when he was still chairman of
Even though West Ham seems to attract the type of fan who is all but
impossible to please, the Upton Park regulars would be foolish to offer the
Gold and Sullivan anything less than their total backing as their arrivals
may just be better than any signing manager Gianfranco Zola could make in
the January transfer window. Time will tell whether West Ham's new owners
succeed in their latest mission, but there can be little doubt that their
intentions are well placed.
The Gold Standard
Posted by Billy Blagg
I'm not sure if it's really au-fait to go quoting yourself but I remember
writing some time ago during the Rio / Brown / Redknapp argument that,
despite what the popular maxim states, there are not three types of lies –
lies, damned lies and statistics – but actually four; lies, damned lies,
statistics and football talk.
Despite the protestations that David's Gold and Sullivan represent the
return of West Ham United to the steady hand of East Enders, I must admit to
receiving the news of the new Gold Standard with just a hint of cynicism.
Perhaps I've been around this club too long but anyone who listens to
promises of plans to "take the Hammers into the Champions League within
seven years" and gets all excited are either naive or just have plain short
memories. Remember someone we affectionately christened Eggy? Am I alone in
not wanting this type of talk? OK I know it's the equivalent of a 'these are
beatable' team talk, moments before a 2nd Division club steps out against
Manchester United in the FA Cup but we need to reflect before we can make
such bold statements.
Obviously there had to be an end to the days of Straumur and CB Holding
following the Icelandic collapse, the club was lurching nearer and nearer to
disaster and administration and for that reason alone I welcome the new
owners but I'll reserve other judgements for later. OK I'll admit it's
probably not the kind of level-headed journalism that you may expect when
discussing the buy-out of a club we all love and devote extraordinary
amounts of time and money too, but it would be wrong to deny that at West
Ham, if anything can go wrong then it probably will.
The Icelandic purchase from our old 'East End hands' certainly ended in
tears but anyone who tells you that they foresaw the eventual outcome is
either a liar or E.F Schumacher (he was an economist – Google it!) The mess
involving the Tevez saga and the Sheffield United court case were both
preventable and could have occurred whoever was in charge such was the
deceit involved but, in any case, I'd argue the main culprits weren't even
Icelandic by birth anyway. Quite why Björgólfur Guðmundsson didn't know what
his friend and colleague Eggert Magnusson was doing with his wilful transfer
and salary policy will always be a major puzzle but, even so in a parallel
world without sub-prime mortgages, we could still have been controlled by a
shareholder of one of the World's major banks – at one stage Guðmundsson was
reckoned to have a net worth of $1.1 billion dollars – and if you want a
club with a rich owner then we could have been in better hands than
Manchester United or Liverpool. CB Holding was a necessary evil to stave off
what should have a total disaster – surely if we hadn't been a member of the
world's foremost football league we would have been sold off to offset debts
or allowed to collapse? – and everything that has happened since from the
paucity of the squad to the sale of a top defender to Aston Villa is the
result of that. Bad luck doesn't come packaged much better. Really you have
to look at the whole Icelandic saga and shrug your shoulders and pull a
rueful grin otherwise you'd probably start to cry.
But that spell of foreign ownership is now a thing of the past and we need
to look to the future and it is this aspect of West Ham that I have never
been able to quite get my head round. I know a lot of fans don't agree with
me but I cannot see why West Ham shouldn't benefit financially and otherwise
from the fact that the eyes of the world will be on the east side of London
in two years time. Some have said that it won't make any difference to West
Ham but if doesn't then someone has taken their eye off the ball and missed
a major opportunity to raise the profile of the club to a worldwide
audience. And when the Olympic flame has been extinguished and the last
visitor has checked out there will be a large expanse of prime land that
will be available for sport for the local community. It will have superb
road and rail links and it will still be in solid east end territory – we're
not talking about Milton Keynes here – and to not think about moving the
club to the Olympic area and selling the Boleyn to Tesco's is economic
madness, in my view.
Before some accuse me of heresy, let's get this straight: I was one of the
people who were sent the questionnaire back in the dark days of the
ill-fated Bond Scheme asking, amongst other things, if I supported a move
away from Upton Park. I said 'No' mired as I was in the fact I was born,
lived and went to school within a goal roar of the ground. In the short-term
I think my reaction was probably right bearing in mind that some clubs who
built new grounds subsequently found huge debt and relegation attaching
itself to sides who may have been considered at the time to have been
comfortable mid-table First Division outfits, and I'll gladly admit that, if
or when the bulldozers rumble down Green Street, I will probably be at the
gates swallowing something jagged with a pocketful of Kleenex - but that
shouldn't make any difference. Any businessman who can't see the
possibilities of making money out of selling up and moving from a piece of
land that isn't really suitable for use anymore and relocating to a
purpose-made area a few miles down the road, isn't worth his salt. It's here
where we may have struck Gold (sorry but there will be plenty of this in the
month's to come and I'm just getting in early) because whatever else you
throw at the David's, they know how to build a business empire.
The moot point for most Hammers' fans though is can the new owners' build a
football empire? I'm a supporter of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke and I
welcome the early statements that indicate that Zola will still have a job,
although it is with reserve as the 'if he still wants it' comment suggests
that he may have to deal directly with hatchet-woman Karren Brady rather
than his Italian mentor Nani. Scott Duxbury may soon find that the town
isn't big enough for him and a significant other either but, with most
people still scratching their heads over the mooted 'Project' that involves
producing kids we've been producing for decades anyway, it's not likely to
cause too many Hammers supporters sleep. Instead, the usual message about
hanging onto those kids and not selling them to Chelsea for the price of a
year's supply of Pukka pies would be more welcome. But Gold's a West Ham fan
so it will come because, presumably, he knows it as well as the rest of us.
Reservations exist because of the Gold and Sullivan ownership of Birmingham
City. It's easy to revert to clichés and Jasper Carrott style football jokes
when discussing Birmingham but you have to remember this is Britain's second
city with a huge fan base and the potential for much more, a club that spent
most of the years under the previous owners yo-yoing between divisions and
becoming something of a soft touch. There may have been immediate returns
after relegation and the shareholders may have made money but this is West
Ham we are talking about where a portion of the fans think mid-table safety
is a failure. I'd argue that, if Birmingham is an example of what we can
expect from the two David's, then things are not likely to be much better
than they were under Terry Brown and the Cearns. This being West Ham though
we are going to talk again of potential, Bobby Moore, 1966, the Academy,
Frank, Rio, Joe and everyone else who has been and gone and say 'if only'
so, if only in lip service alone, David Gold will almost certainly indicate
we have more to gain and that we are a bigger club (in fact, if he's not
made a statement to that effect before this goes on the web then I'll eat my
1963 West Ham bobble hat). I'll grant it is encouraging that Gold and
Sulliavn have asked for other investors to come forward as it suggests that
they know that only big money talks in the Premier League but the trouble is
we've had a lot of words over the years; its actions we want now.
In the short term, I assume funds will be released for players for the
transfer window as we desperately need cover in some areas or things are
going to get worse. I'm confident though that West Ham will pull out of the
slump and expect them to eventually climb to safety so it's with half an eye
on next season where the promises of Gold and Sullivan will start to
formulate for me and it's there where I'm, if not less confident, at least
holding my breath.
I don't want empty promises about the Champions League – you don't miss what
you never had - I just want a well-run club that plays good football in a
packed stadium with a vociferous crowd. I want the TV cameras concentrating
on players following in the footsteps of Di Canio, Cottee, McAvennie,
Brooking, Hurst and Devonshire not lingering on the withering gaze of
Margaret Mountford's replacement. I don't want to see that bloody headline
'Hammer Horrors' again. Nor do I want a day like the one when I saw Glenn
Roeder in a hard hat sitting on the rubble of the west stand or that other
fateful day when I saw one of the best young defenders in Europe making his
debut for a club who were in no better a position than we were. Thanks for
the reminder David but I know Bobby Moore was a great player – I saw him
play – I don't want to keep getting told what we once had but rather to see
the next Moore in a white shirt in the summer and a West Ham one in the
winter. I don't want to be the butt of the jokes in an office of
glory-seeking 'northerners' and I'd like to look a Spurs supporter in the
eye after a cup victory or two and I'd like to see some of our kids still
playing for us long after they have an opportunity to grow a beard.
If you can give me that Messrs Gold and Sullivan, then we may have some type
of understanding and you'll have my lifelong thanks. But, encouraging press
conference aside, you won't mind if I just sit back and see what transpires
for a bit, will you? After all, you're real West Ham fans so you know how I
London 2012 chiefs stand firm on Olympic Stadium legacy as West Ham plan
By Sportsmail Reporter
Last updated at 1:29 PM on 19th January 2010
London 2012 organisers say West Ham would have to agree to keep a running
track at the Olympic Stadium if they are to move into the venue after the
2012 Games. New West Ham owner David Sullivan revealed today the club do
want to leave Upton Park for the Olympic Stadium. London mayor Boris Johnson
is also keen on a football club taking over the running costs of the stadium
but the decision will have to be taken by the Olympic Park Legacy Company
(OPLC). A London 2012 spokeswoman said: 'The OPLC are looking at the legacy
of the Olympic Park, including the stadium. 'Everyone is clear that the
stadium will have a running track in legacy but additional sporting use is a
matter for the OPLC.' Sullivan said: 'It is nice to get the club back in the
hands of east Londoners and these are exciting times. 'We hope to persuade
the Government to let us move into the new Olympic Stadium and I believe the
people of east London would support that move.'
West Ham - a club with a glorious history dating back to the Irons' age
Matthew Beard, Sports News Correspondent
West Ham's new owners inherit a club whose glorious past is in danger of
becoming a distant memory. Founded in 1900 from an East End ironworks team,
the Hammers became one of the nation's most fashionable sides in the Sixties
when they boasted three influential players - Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and
Martin Peters - in England's 1966 World Cup winning side. As club captain,
Moore led West Ham to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 and
the first of the club's three FA Cups in 1964. A statue of Barking-born
Moore, who died of cancer in 1991, stands outside West Ham's Boleyn ground
as a symbol of the club's proud history. Without a major trophy since their
third FA Cup in 1980, West Ham's fervent working class following has become
increasingly frustrated as home-grown future England stars such as Rio
Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole left to improve their chance of
silverware at bigger clubs. In the latest blow to their reputation, West Ham
were recently fined £115,000 as fighting broke out a home game against local
rivals Millwall last year. Highly-respected manager Ron Greenwood was in
charge during the Hammers' Sixties heyday before taking over as England team
boss after 12 years at the club.
West Ham key points
Published: Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 1:55PM
The headlines from new West Ham owner David Sullivan's press conference on
:: Sullivan has bought 50% of the club in a deal that values the Hammers at
£105million, with David Gold installed as joint chairman and Karren Brady
:: Sullivan has an option to buy the remaining 50% from Icelandic bank
Straumur, the previous owners, but is encouraging wealthy fans to invest,
including Tony Fernandes, who was behind a rival takeover bid.
:: Sullivan values the club's debts at more than £100million after paying
off some debt and injecting working capital. The debt comprises £50million
owed to banks, £40million owed to other clubs and the settlement to former
manager Alan Curbishley. The previous owners also borrowed against the next
two years of season-ticket money.
:: Had Sullivan not bought out the club, they would have needed to raise
£20million by the end of August to stay afloat. That included £8million this
month and £12million in the summer transfer window.
:: Sullivan wants West Ham to move to the Olympic Stadium in east London
after the Games in 2012 in a rental agreement with the Government. However,
he is not keen on keeping a running track at the stadium.
:: Sullivan has "categorically" confirmed Gianfranco Zola will stay on as
manager and will be able to bring in players this month.
:: Sullivan has a seven-year plan to get the Hammers into the Champions
Sullivan crys tears of joy after buying Hammers
Author: Nigel Brown
Posted on:19 January 2010 - 13:57
David Sullivan, the new co-owner of West Ham United, wept on-air as he told
talkSPORT of his 'passion' for the club following his joint takeover of the
Hammers with David Gold.? ?Speaking to Alan Brazil and Ronnie Irani on the
Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show, Sullivan struggled to hold back tears as
he talked about his vision for the club:
"We want to go back to everything that is good about British football," said
Sullivan. "Where you have a lot of local people playing for the local
Premier League team. This is a club that we care for passionately; I've got
tears in my eye talking about it. We are so pleased to be here."
Asked by Brazil how it felt to finally takeover the club he's coveted for so
long, Sullivan said: "I'm elated. It's really gone on far too long, really
far too long for the good of the club. We've been pressing for the last
three weeks to bring this to a head. But unfortunately when you're dealing
with banks, bureaucracy and solicitors it takes time. It wasn't our side.
The bid that was accepted today we made four weeks ago. But they have a
procedure that they have to go through; they represent their shareholders
and that's the way things work.
"This went on until midnight last night and unbeknown to me they were
dealing with two or three people throughout the day, all of whom thought
that they were the preferred bidder, who didn't know about the other people.
But they went with us just before midnight last night. It's been very, very
stressful. I've had hundreds of thousands of emails from solicitors and
auditors and so on and so forth. But we've been saying that there are only
so many days left of the transfer window and the team needs players."
Asked by Brazil about the timing of the takeover, Sullivan said: "It's not
the best time to do it. But we have to bring in some players. January is
not the best time to do it, but sometimes there are some bargains around.
We got Mario Zarate at Birmingham City [in January] two years ago who is a
top, top player. West Ham does need players, particularly forwards, so we
will immediately go into action and see what we can get."
Brazil then suggested that some clubs may increase their asking price for
players knowing that West Ham desperately need to add to its squad. "It's
horrible," said Sullivan. "But we are tough negotiators and people have to
accept that West Ham have resources, but the resources are limited. The West
Ham team may be good enough to stay up with nothing spent on it. We want to
enhance the chances by bringing in some players in positions where the team
is pretty thin.
"But I thought it was a tremendous battling performance at Aston Villa at
the weekend and for the last four of five games there seems to be some metal
about the side and they don't seem to be haemorrhaging goals like they were.
There's already an improvement on the field and if we can bring in a few
strikers and some speed into the team then hopefully they can go from
strength to strength."
Asked by Irani if under-pressure manager Gianfranco Zola's position was
safe, Sullivan said:
"He is the manager and he will stay as the manager. At Birmingham, in 16
and a-half years, we only sacked two managers. We're not sackers of
managers. It's very unbalancing for the club and very expensive for the
club and I don't think teams who change manager every year or every couple
of years do any better than teams who stick with managers for five or ten
Sullivan then went on to confirm exactly what he and David Gold's stake was
in the club. "We have bought 50 per cent of the club. We have operational
and strategic control as part of the deal. We have the option to buy the
other 50 per cent in the first four months at one price, the following four
months at another price and subject to restraints like we don't go potty
like [former Chairman] Mr [Bjorgolfur] Gudmundsson, because our partners the
bank have to protect themselves, we have control to make any decisions we
want. But above certain levels we have to get their approval because of the
precarious financial state of the club."
Sullivan then used the interview to ask any wealthy talkSPORT listeners who
were Hammers fans to get in touch if they wished to join the board, saying
"I would take this opportunity to say to any listeners who are West Ham
supporters who are very wealthy and would like to join us, I have the option
of buying the other 50 per cent of the club which I may invoke myself. But
I would much prefer to invoke it with a small number of very, very keen West
Ham supporters who want to come on to the board, be part of the club and
take it to the next level."?
Asked by Brazil what the long-term strategy for the club, aside from Premier
League survival, was, Sullivan said:
"The whole strategy is the move to the Olympic Stadium. The Olympic
Stadium is three miles as the crow flies from Upton Park. It's in the
Borough of Newham; West Ham is in the Borough of Newham. We have the
precedent of Manchester City being in the Commonwealth Stadium in
Manchester. At the moment the plans for the stadium are that it will be
ripped down and reduced in capacity to 25,000 to become a rugby stadium,
which will no doubt be three-quarters empty. In a credit-crunch it seems
obscene to build an 80,000 capacity stadium and reduce it to 25,000. I
cannot think of a worst waste of money.
"We would like it to remain an 80,000 seater because then we could become
'the peoples' football club. We could let old-age-pensioners in for £3,
kids in for a pound. e would have the capacity to make Premier League
football available to all people whatever their income and wealth."
Gold & Sullivan Look to the Future
West Ham Till I Die
I'm afraid I have been in meetings all morning so I haven't seen the press
conference. I just heard a very excited David Gold on 5 Live, whose tone was
in great contrast to the funereal tone adopted by David Sullivan on 5 Live
Breakfast. I did a 5 minute piece myself on the Victoria Derbyshire Show at
about 10.15 in which I tried to maintain a balance between excited
anticipation and outlining what I felt fans would be concerned about.
Peter Robinson, from the West Ham Email List that I belong to summarises the
press conference as follows…
- Still £110 million debt
- West Ham have borrowed against everything
- 70% of sponsor money already paid ( 3 year deal )
- If e.g. Bellamy was sold for £15 mill , WHU received £3 million and the
remaining £12 mill was sold to a finance house for less ( e.g. £10 mill )
- We owe other clubs £40 million ( incl. Sheffield Utd. he isn't allowed to
say how much of that goes to the scum )
- Other clubs owe us nothing
- We still owe Curbs a payoff
- No players will be sold to raise money , this was a fundamental of them
buying the club
- Both are fans and wouldn't have bought the club if it wasn't West Ham
- they will approach Tony Fernandes
- They want to move to Olympic Stadium so that ticket prices can be reduced
- WHU has borrowed against 70% of next season and 60% of the season afters'
season ticket revenue
- They have strategic and operation control
- Sullivan has a 4 year option to buy the remaining 50%
- He complemented Duxbury & Igoe for keeping the club in business
- We needed to raise 8 mill in this transfer window and £12 mill in the
summer if the club wasn't sold.
- They will make money available to Zola
- they have faith in Zola and the squad , although there is a vast amount of
midfielders and short in every other position.
- They would rent the Olympic Stadium
- Sullivan says one club in the Premiership has debts more than assets and
could go out of business by end of season – is it Pompey!?
- Sullivan has paid £52.5 mill for 50%
- Brady is Vice Chairman , Sullivan & Gold co-Chairmen
- Wants cheapest Premier League prices in the country if we move to the
- They will speak to Zola re transfer targets
I would love to spend the rest of the afternoon discussing all of this with
you by way of an online chat forum, but unfortunately my company has its AGM
tonight and I need to spend the afternoon preparing for it. So for now I
will leave you to it. I am sure SJ Chandos will post something later.
New West Ham owners hammer home passion
Reuters - 1 hours ago
LONDON - West Ham United have prided themselves on being the people's club
of London's East End for generations and on Tuesday two of their richest
fans took control of the club promising a bright new future. Businessmen
David Gold and David Sullivan, former owners of Birmingham City, completed
their takeover of the Premier League strugglers and said they wanted to take
the club into the Champions League within seven years. They also plan to
move West Ham from Upton Park to the new Olympic Stadium just three miles
away after the 2012 London Games. Their immediate concern however was to
keep the Hammers in the Premier League - the team are 16th and only being
kept out of the relegation zone by goal difference. Sullivan, who watched
the team from the terraces as a boy, said in a tearful interview with radio
station Talksport that he and partner Gold were lifelong Hammers supporters
who always dreamed of owning West Ham. "We care passionately about this
club, we are so pleased to be here," he said, adding there were no plans to
replace manager Gianfranco Zola. "He is the manager and will stay as the
manager," he said. "But we must stay in the Premiership, if we don't it is
an absolute disaster for us."
West Ham may be one of London's biggest clubs but have mainly lived in the
shadow of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and have never won the
title in their 110-year existence, unlike the other three.Hammers fans
loyally maintain they "won" the World Cup in 1966 with their trio of Bobby
Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters in the triumphant England team, and
they have als o enjoyed cup successes. Three-times FA Cup winners, they
lifted the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 but since 1978 they have been
relegated from the top flight four times and have never finished higher than
ninth since regaining their Premier League place in 2005.
However, they have long been admired for their attractive footballing
philosophy, introduced by Ron Greenwood in the 1960s and maintained by the
eight men who have followed him as manager in the last 36 years. Sullivan
wants to maintain West Ham's traditions and take them to the heights of the
English game. Other rich owners who have taken control of the clubs they
supported as boys have tried and failed in the past but Sullivan and Gold
believe a bright new future awaits. "West Ham is the club of the East End
and Essex. I went to school in Hornchurch and right out into Essex is West
Ham land," said Sullivan. "It is 30 miles but we hope all those people who
live there and feel passionate, get behind the club. We will not make the
mistakes others have made in the past."
David Sullivan and David Gold expose West Ham United's £100m debt
David Sullivan and David Gold laid bare the extent of West Ham United's
crippling debts after completing a takeover they have described as "the
realisation of a dream". The former Birmingham City owners completed their
takeover of the club late last night, having paid around £50 million for a
50 per cent stake, a deal that values the club at around £105 million. Both
men are lifelong supporters of West Ham and although they have spoken of
having a seven-year plan to reach the Champions League, they admit they may
be restricted by the club's debt, which has spiralled to more than £100
million. "We wouldn't buy this club at all if this wasn't West Ham,"
Sullivan said. "It makes no commercial sense for anyone to buy this club and
it's amazing that two other people wanted to buy it. "One is another West
Ham supporter [Tony Fernandes] and the other is the Italian [Massimo
Cellino]. I'm not quite sure if they looked at the books properly, but if
they did they might have walked away. "We've paid down some of the debt and
injected some working capital but there's still more than £100 million of
debt. In that there's £50 million owed to banks and there's £40 million owed
to other clubs. There's not a penny to come in, they [the previous owners]
have borrowed against the next two years of season-ticket money. The
sponsors have paid 70 per cent of their three-years up front. "In addition
there's the club's settlement to Alan Curbishley [the former manager who won
his claim against the club for constructive dismissal], so the real debt is
about £110 million."
Sullivan and Gold revealed they have an option to buy the remaining 50 per
cent of the club from Straumur, the Icelandic bank that retains a 50 per
cent share, at any time in the next four years. However, their preferred
option is to attract a number of wealthy supporters to help buy the
remaining shares in the club. "We have wanted to be here for 20-odd years,"
Sullivan said. "Together we owned 27 per cent of the club 22 years ago, so
it's taken us 22 years to be where we really wanted to be. I'm still in a
state of shock.
"The debts here are so large that most Englishmen can't carry them so we
would like to share them with others and help take West Ham to the next
level. Our preferred option is that we find other people who want five or
ten per cent and we will go to Tony Fernandes, who was one of the others
interested in buying the club. "If you imagine a government of national
unity in national crisis this is the board equivalent and we want people to
come in and help dig the club out of that. Every stone you turn is a
negative to the cash flow of the club and viability of the club."