Gianfranco Zola reacted with anger today at suggestions from new owner David
Sullivan that the West Ham manager and his first-team squad are going to be
faced with a pay-cut at the end of the season. Sullivan, who bought the club
with David Gold last month, fears "Armageddon" if West Ham are relegated
from the Premier League as they have debts of more than £110million. And
even if they survive the drop, Zola and his players have been told to expect
cuts in their salaries. "I can't believe the contracts I've inherited,"
Sullivan said today. "Every position is overpaid, whether in administration
or on the playing side. "Everyone at the club will be asked to take a salary
cut in the summer. "The club is in a mess and we all have to pull together.
If we go down I can't even consider the situation."
But boss Zola is unhappy that Sullivan has spoken so openly ahead of a
crucial match with Birmingham City at Upton Park tomorrow night. The Hammers
currently lie third bottom of the Premier League, a point behind Bolton.
Zola said: "The article [by Sullivan] should have been done at a different
time instead of just before a match like tomorrow's. "It would have been
better to say what was said at another time and, maybe, talk to us [the
players and staff] before the newspapers." He added: "I am not happy about
it, I don't think it does any good for the team."
The Italian also insisted that he and his players — amongst whom Scott
Parker and Kieron Dyer are reported to earn £65,000-a-week and Matthew Upson
(£60,000) — are not purely motivated by money. He added: "Personally, I am
not here for the money. When I first joined the club in 2008, I did not know
how much I was going to earn. I came here for the plan and a project. "After
a while, the club offered me a new contract and it was not about money, I
was working for something positive."
Zola would now appear to be on collision course with Sullivan and Gold who
have made it their intention to cut costs at the club since they arrived in
east London. It may ultimately end up costing him his job, but the
43-year-old Italian insisted he would remain true to his values. Zola said:
"I have principles, I won't allow people to walk over me."