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Saved by the bull

Filed: Thursday, 28th June 2018
By: BristolHammerFC

KUMB moderator BristolHammerFC writes in response to those who claim that West Ham United was saved from administration by the club's current owners in 2010...

May I begin with a little honesty and disclosure here...

I had an inside contact at West Ham United when Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Eggert Magnusson owned the club, through the Scott Duxbury (as CEO) reign and into the start of the Sullivans' tenure until just after they approached Martin O'Neill regarding the manager's role in 2010.

When the Icelandics took over, although we were in an awful position, they treated the club's employees correctly, invested in the club and backed their manager (Alan Curbishley) without much interference.

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There was the occasional punt by Eggy, but not without the manager green-lighting first. They had big plans to move the club on and, had the financial bubble not burst in Iceland, we would have had a very good infrastructure.

Then came the era of Duxbury, a bloke who was way out of his league playing fast and lose with the truth whilst being a massive narcissist. He swanned around like lord of the manor and with Nani, thought they could do what they liked.

They changed the structure so we had a coach, not a manager, under Gianfranco Zola. Duxbury was a bloke whose mouthing off about Ashley in one of his casinos in Newcastle cost us a couple of extra million on an already poor deal for Dyer.

Once he called Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy and Matthew Upson into the office and asked them to "choose which one of you is going to be sold to balance the books". He bought a player that no one knew or wanted until he turned up on the training ground (Savio Nsereko) and cost us a court case because of it.

He mortgaged the crown jewels and took pay day loans whilst all the time running down the previous administration and selling everything that moved. The guy was a solicitor and would have known that administration wouldn't have meant oblivion.

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So West Ham were skint, but nowhere near dead. The banks were willing to do business, so the club could have survived administration - and probably benefited from it. The place was in chaos both on the pitch and behind the scenes.

Then along came David Gold and the Sullivans. Fellow prospective buyer Tony Fernandes had already made initial contact before the Daves got wind that we were there for the taking.

The initial idea was to let us go into administration and buy us like they did Birmingham City, but there were two other players. Sullivan and Gold had fresh cash from the sale of Birmingham who they bought for £700,000 when it was in administration. (It had been that way for five months.)

They made big promises, but they were then forced out after opening the players lounge to the public on match days. This after their adopted policy of signing loanees and free transfers on big wages relegated the club.

They then tried to build a new stadium and lost the funding. They wouldn't put their own money in. They then sold Birmingham to convicted money launderer Carson Yeung, a businessman from Hong Kong, for around £90million.

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The truth is that West Ham United weren't going bust, but were going cheap. Sullivan and Gold paid around £25million each to acquire a controlling share of the club, which was valued at £105million.

Upon confirmation of the purchase, they said: "Zola is absolutely staying. We can say that categorically. West Ham United need stability after all the recent upheavals. We appointed four managers and parted company with two at Birmingham in 16 years. We believe in our managers and give them the time and support they need".

They added that: "We have a seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League. We are deeply and passionately involved in West Ham. It is where I have wanted to be for 20 years. We have done [what we've done] in a way that is good for Birmingham and we have got the club we wanted. Over the next seven years we will spend a lot of money."

Sullivan said part of their plan for the future of West Ham was to move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium. "It is the natural home for West Ham," he insisted. "We hope to persuade the Government to let us move into the new Olympic Stadium and I believe the people of east London would support that move."

Interestingly perhaps, CB Holding stated at the time that the club was £38million in debt - although Sullivan claimed the actual debt figure was £110million. Gold and Sullivan invested £20million each to clear some immediate debts as loans.

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So where am I going with this? The point is they didn't "save us", as is sometimes claimed by less well-informed supporters, as we didn't need saving. They made a business move to make a profit based on moving to the Olympic Stadium. They had £90million to spend from the sale of Birmingham City so put very little of their own wealth into West Ham.

They were courting Mark Hughes and then Martin O'Neill behind Gianfranco Zola's back. They recruited players and imposed them on their manager/s. The players would freely discuss how bad it was and how the chairman was dictating things.

Then the O'Neill thing went public and Karren Brady threatened to sack any member of staff who so much as breathed what happened at West Ham, despite Jack and Dave Sullivan running riot on Twitter. The players were told not to speak to other employees.

I believed at the time that the move to the Olympic Stadium would be great for West Ham United FC as a club. I was a sucker and fell for it. Now? The truth is, I just want them gone.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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