Filed: Sunday, 7th December 2003
By: East Stand Martin
My friends, I say that Monday is the day that will be the beginning of the end for the gangster regime that is running our club. I do not expect the forces of light to prevail at the West Ham United plc AGM but all revolutions begin in small ways.
Remember those students who laid down in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. Remember those that took hammers to the Berlin Wall. Remember those that pulled down the statues of Sadam.
The three types that run English football
I had a chat the other day with a leading sports journalist and discussed my theories on the people that own or run football clubs. I see three types:
(a) The oligarchs;
(b) The sugar daddies;
(c) The leisure businesses.
The sugar daddies are the super rich individuals that weigh in and put their money where their mouths are. As much as it pains me to even mention the word t*ttenham, Alan Sugar was an example of the genus. Opinions are still mixed about Sugar amongst the Spurs fans I know, but let's face it, he did shell out his own cash.
The biggest sugar daddy of all is Abramovic, although he is closely followed by Al Fayed. Maybe Leeds might join in with their Sheikh, although he seems a little less able to dish the dosh. Let's face it, they may be often questionable individuals with murky business backgrounds and they have their baggage, but who can say that they have not been good for both the clubs they are financing.
The leisure businesses are run by people who in many ways are detached from the emotion of running football clubs. But they are astute in their dealings, are run on professional lines and follow sound principles of corporate governance. Charlton is a club that springs to mind here and what I would give to be like Charlton in this regard.
The oligarchs are the dregs of the industry. They are outdated, outmoded personal fiefdoms that rely on the loyalty of fans. If they were in control of any other business they would not survive as their customers would simply tell them to get stuffed. They have bad corporate governance and appalling public relations. Their PR consists of saying "no comment" or issuing rambling, often patronising statements. They also tend not to have their hands in their pockets when finance is required and are essentially parasitical in conduct, paying themselves inflated salaries and perks. They are West Ham and Newcastle.
Dictators never prosper in the long run
I have a theory that says that in the long-run these oligarchs cannot survive. They have too many internal contradictions. They have the seeds of their own downfall. They cannot continue to duck and dive and asset strip.
The AGM on Monday is not about toppling the corrupt regime which runs our club. It is about taking that first hammer (if you will excuse the pun) to the crumbling edifice that is the Brown Junta. I find it very encouraging in many ways that Brown has put this 'poison pill' of a two year pay off if he is sacked from his position. It takes a poisonous person to use the poison pill, but it does indicate to me that he can see the beginning of the end.
It's not a lot different to the way that corrupt dictators have salted away money in foreign banks to provide for themselves when the people throw them out. Yes, my friends, Terry Brown is the Ferdinand Marcos or the Nicolae Ceaucescu of English football.
Brown will roll out his votes on Monday like some trade union baron with a block vote - although at least the trade union barons actually pay for the privilege of having that vote, year in year out. But, my friends, do not be downhearted when he wins on Monday. It will be a pyrrhic victory.
Ho Chi Minh once said: "Out of the snows and cruelty of winter, comes the warmth of the Spring". Or words to that effect. On Monday we will still be in the depths of winter, but I am beginning to detect a ray or two of sun.
What we must all realise though, that it will require more than Whistle to topple the regime. I support Whistle and I have tried to help their cause in a modest way, but it requires a fans revolt to push Brown over the edge.
All of us need to recognise that we the fans have a lot in common with Abramovic. We and the Russian gangster saved West Ham last summer. The difference between us is that the Russian has gone (with two of the best players I have ever seen at Upton Park) and we are still here. When Brown praises the loyalty of the fans, it makes me sick to my stomach. He is taking the piss. He is playing on our loyalty, smugly sitting there in that Directors' Box coining in £10 grand a week. Without us he is nowhere.
The claret and blue revolution
This is where I started. Revolutions succeed often despite the lack of democratic structures where change can be effected. They had no democracy in East Germany, but they got rid of their leaders. Let's call it a fans' revolt, because that is what is required.
There's one New Year resolution that we all should make: "This year I am going to voice my non-violent opposition to Brown and his cronies". He has a skin thicker than a rhino, but he will not survive if we all keep up the fight. Do not fall prey to the argument that such a campaign will affect the performances on the pitch. This is Brown propaganda, playing on all the loyalty that we have to our club. We cannot allow this man to continue in the long term and we must make his life as difficult as possible. Celebrate our wins but do not remain silent about Brown. He will cave in my friends, believe me.
And when that glorious day arrives, I will join you all at the gates of the Boleyn Ground, celebrating the victory of the claret and blue revolution.
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