West Ham Set For Gold And Sullivanís Midas Touch



west ham united West Ham’s long-running takeover saga finally came to an end on Monday night when former Birmingham City co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold had their bid for a 50% stake in the cash-strapped East London club accepted by CB Holdings, the consortium of banks who have run the club since last June.

An official statement said that the deal valued the club at £105m. But it is not clear what Sullivan, the driving force behind the bid, has paid for a stake which, though not a majority one, gives him “operational and commercial control of the football club.”


What Sullivan did make immediately clear was that he believed West Ham’s debts were far more than recently-reported figures. He said:

 “It makes no commercial sense for us to buy this club. We’ve paid down some debt and injected some working capital but there’s still more than £100m of debt.


That figure, he added, included “£50m owed to banks (and) £40m owed to other clubs…the real debt is about £110m.” Sullivan was also clear as to who to blame, claiming: “The Icelandic owners built up a business formula that did not work.”


Previous owner Bjorgolfur Gudmunsson and chairman Eggert Magnusson hugely overspent during Gudmunsson’s first two years in charge, after taking over the club in October 2006.


And West Ham’s financial fortunes collapsed when Gudmunsson’s business empire also collapsed alongside the Icelandic economy. Sullivan, Gold and their former Birmingham colleague Karren Brady will have to, in Sullivan’s words, “sort this mess out.”


Sullivan has expressed an interest in moving West Ham to London’s Olympic Stadium after the 2012 games. However, with an eye on the financial situation, he was quick to add: “We don’t want to buy (it), we want to rent it.”


Both Sullivan and Gold have backgrounds in the pornographic industry. 60-year-old Sullivan spent 71 days in an open prison in 1982, after being sentenced to nine months for “living off immoral earnings.” The offence is not covered under the Premier League’s ‘Fit-and-Proper-Persons’ regulations.


He and Gold brought Birmingham City from financial near-ruin to the Premier League during their sixteen years at the Midlands club. However, they lost two battles against top-flight relegation, the latest in 2008.


Manager Gianfranco Zola’s job is thought safe, despite reports late last year that Sullivan would install recently-dismissed Manchester City boss Mark Hughes in the Boleyn Ground hot seat.


Sullivan has claimed that he has held talks with a “£100,000-per-week” striker (see “a business formula that did not work”, above), thought to be Real Madrid’s Dutch ex-Manchester United forward Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Back on planet earth, the Hammers reportedly lodged a £1.2m bid for disaffected Blackburn frontman Benni McCarthy.


The Hammers were fined £115,000 last week by the FA for ‘failing to control their fans’ at last August’s Carling Cup-tie with bitter London rivals Millwall at Upton Park.


They were found guilty of two of four charges brought against them in relation to crowd behaviour.


West Ham have 14 days to appeal the decision.


Tags: West Ham, Premier League, Gianfranco Zola, Hammers, Upton Park


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