WORST HAM – LONDONERS’ FINANCIAL WOES REVEALED
DAVID SULLIVAN walked into the chairman\’s suite at Upton Park and realised that behind the plush facade he had inherited a hammer house of horrors.
Along with partner David Gold, Sullivan had just paid £52.5million for a controlling interest in the club.
After an arduous takeover battle, it emerged that only Gold and Sullivan had the hard cash to buy into the club.
And it hasn’t taken him long to start doing some simple maths and flourish a red pen.
Sullivan has been staggered at what he sees as some of the excesses at the club, free spending that has continued despite the fact West Ham have been on brink since the business empire of ex-owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson collapsed 15 months ago.
“We have bought into an incredibly bad situation. At every level the club has been badly run,” said Sullivan.
“I’ll give you one simple example. It is now January and we have still got 21,000 first team shirts in stock at £21 each. Ridiculous.
“No proper decisions have been made. Bad deals have been done. This is the deck of cards we have inherited and it is going to take us time to play those cards.”
West Ham’s perilous financial position has forced them to take out loans on the promise of the next two years’ Premier League television revenue, despite the fact they are far from guaranteed to beat relegation. Also, 70 per cent of a shirt sponsorship with SBOBET has been taken up front to stave off the threat of administration.
Gold claims the club needed to raise £20m by the end of the month, which would have meant the sale of Scott Parker and Matthew Upson and either Rob Green or Carlton Cole.
Some of deals that have heaped such a heavy financial burden on the club left the new owners barely able to catch their breath.
In summer 2007, Arsene Wenger was willing to off-load Freddie Ljungberg for £1.5m The player is believed to asked for £50,000 a week. In the end, they paid Arsenal £3m and gave the Swede near to £80,000 a week.
A year later, they realised he was not up to Premier League pace any more, and they paid up his £6m contract. Players such as Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy, Lucas Neill and Scott Parker joined on wages which were way out of West Ham’s league.
Sullivan was staggered to discover technical director Gianluca Nani was being paid £300,000 a year while two full-time club doctors earned a combined salary of £400,000.
Nani’s track record in recruiting players has, for the most part, been disastrous.
Last January, he lured German Under-21 international Savio Nsereko to England for a fee touted at £9m.
The player wasn’t up to it and has slipped back to Italy for next to nothing.
Sullivan’s verdict on the squad is damning. He said: “We have an unbelievably unbalanced team. It doesn’t take a genius to see we have more midfielders than we know what do with.”
On the coaching front, Sullivan is astonished that, given the club’s plight, it still opted to hand Gianfranco Zola a new deal so soon into his managerial career on a salary of £1.9m. Assistant, Steve Clarke is on £1.2m, thought to be double the salary of Manchester United’s No 2, Mike Phelan.
Sullivan will also wonder why several new company cars were recently acquired, including an Aston Martin on a £1,500 a month lease.
As it stands the plan is simple. Sullivan said: “The short term situation is survival. The long term situation is our dreams.”