Martin Samuel: It’s bad owners who fail, stupid!
Excellent read: Freddie\’s not free
Those who have studied West Ham’s books with a view to purchase fear that relegation would be the financial tipping point. The club do not have to sell their leading players in this January transfer window – indeed, to do so would be suicidal – but if they go down there would be a very real threat of administration.
This is partly bad luck, due to the collapse of the Icelandic banking system that caught out more than a few, and partly bad business because this economic disaster coincided with the regime of Eggert Magnusson, a man who spent money like it was going out of fashion, and then found it had.
Magnusson, who stood down from his position as executive chairman once his profligacy became apparent to owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, had a touch of the Ridsdales in that his ambition was to make West Ham a Champions League club. Like Ridsdale, however, many of his decisions were irresponsible.
Freddie Ljungberg was believed to be available on a free transfer from Arsenal, but Magnusson authorised a payment of £3m and wages of £85,000 a week, just to get the deal done quickly. After two mediocre years, West Ham reached agreement with Ljungberg merely to remove him from the wage bill: his 28 games and two goals cost the club an estimated £13m.
So 6.5million a goal! Not even Ronaldo gets that kind of scoring bonus.