1. The Shambles
As responsive as a coked-up Lewis Hamilton, The H List is here to ramble on a bit about yesterday's announcement that the battle to own what has been revealed to be a near insolvent football club, has been won by Messrs Gold and Sullivan.
I was initially underwhelmed upon hearing the news, somewhat deflated that my preferred option of AirAsia boss, Tony Fernandes (preferred for no real reason on reflection), had not won the day.
As this blog has a sound reputation for fair-mindedness and considered opinion, I sought to hear what our new owners had to say before rushing to condemn their appointment.
Sifting through the coverage, what obviously stood out was the crass incompetence of the previous administration and how close to the precipice we teetered. Some startling figures include:
£50million owed to banks
£40million owed to other clubs
A total debt of £110million
We have borrowed against 70% of next year’s season ticket income, and of 60% the following year's
SBOBet have paid 70% of their sponsorship money three years upfront
We would’ve had to find £8million this month and £12million in the summer to stay afloat
The club borrowed against the income due from player sales (Bellamy etc) before it arrived, and so nothing is due.
I don't think any of us thought it was quite that bad.
It appears as if nearly all club assets bar a few players have been sold or pre-sold in order to keep the wolf from the door.
David Sullivan praised the efforts of Chief Executive, Scott Duxbury, and Chief Financial Officer, Nick Igoe, for their efforts in treading water until a suitable buyer could be found.
You could take this stance and commend their forethought in successfully keeping the club solvent.
Or you could question whether they should be paraded around Plaistow in stocks for having presided over this calamity in the first place, particularly Duxbury.
2. The Conflict
One wonders whether there will be room for Duxbury at the table (despite Sullivan publicly assuring him of his position), with the arrival of Karen Brady as Vice Chairman, although rumours of the £2million cost of sacking Duxbury may tell us all we need to know.
Brady was The David’s CEO at Birmingham for 16-years and is obviously a no nonsense kinda gal. She was CEO of Birmingham City at 23-years of age and has a reputation as a ruthless workaholic, underlined by the fact that she returned to work just three days after the birth of her first child.
The way through a frosty impasse could be if Brady offers Duxbury one of her children as a sacrifice, swathed in pentagram swaddling for his Satanic altar - an option that could well suit all concerned.
3. Duxbury Welcomes Brady To The Boardroom
4. The Deal
The Davids have acquired 50% of the club, commanding “operational and strategic control”. The remaining 50% is owned by Straumur, although Sullivan has an option to buy them out anytime within the next four years.
He has stated that he would rather a few wealthy Hammers fans chip in a few million each for the remaining equity and a seat on the Board. Tony Fernandes has already been approached but has announced that he “will take a breather from football”, in the very same sentence as announcing that ‘AirAsia is a goldmine’.
Sullivan and Gold have assured Zola and his management team of their future, as well as declaring that no-one will have to be sold this month. They have also made limited funds available to strengthen a thin squad and threadbare frontline in the fight against relegation.
The Davids will not receive any payment in their new roles and will themselves pay the wages of Brady.
They have also earmarked an eventual move to Stratford’s Olympic Stadium as a definite priority, despite the need to maintain a running track, which in itself would be awful. They have cited the potential to slash ticket prices in light of the hugely increased capacity.
With the apparent inability to augment The Boleyn Ground and the added income from developing the site, this may make financial sense, but it will be a move made under close scrutiny from West Ham diehards and with a lump in many throats.
Other proposals to potentially sell the naming rights to Upton Park are similarly disconcerting, but unfortunately seem to be the distasteful way of the future. ‘SundaySport@TheBoleynGround’ anyone?
At least now we can now all look forward to Bubbles The Bear getting his baps out at the Blackburn game.
5. The Future?
The above may sound a little negative, but now that our critical state has been laid bare, I think we're all just thankful that we can draw a line under this sorry episode.
While not the golden geese that some of us perhaps wished for, The Davids seem bolstered to invest the money and passion it will doubtless take to get us out of this mess. Hopefully they will prove the considered, inclusive owners we need.
Sullivan and Gold are obviously committed to the cause, either that or totally mental to take on such a financial liability.
While they are not equipped to launch us up the table anytime soon, we’ve all had our fingers burnt in that regard and I for one would rather a bit of stability and the earnest transparency that has thus far been forthcoming, and which looks set to continue.