Monday, 24th July 2017
Why should we not be worried?
Filed: Monday, 10th July 2017
Author: Paul Walker
Maybe I am just too cynical, maybe I have been following and commenting on football for too long now not to be able to see anything positive about my club.
But anyone watching West Ham at the moment who is not worried, is not paying attention. Anyone who thinks our ‘Bermuda triangle’ of a recruitment team is not fractured beyond repair is also not paying attention.
Daily now we are seeing supposed transfer targets disappear, daily the money we all believed was there and we were promised would be there in abundance once we had moved to the Olympic Stadium, is disappearing.
I want someone to tell me things will be OK and mean it. That we will sign the half dozen --minimum--players we need to replenish a squad being depleted. Daily.
Anyone who knows me realises I don’t do sums very well. I have a wife and a financial advisor (I promise you that is not the same thing!) on the case for things like money matters.
But even I can see that the sums at West Ham do not add up, be it by smoke and mirrors, as you would expect from a David Sullivan-David Gold regime, or that thicko fans like me just don’t understand football‘s high (or in our case, low) finances.
Let's start with Slav and the transfer market trio. That’s our manager, owner Sullivan and his pet, Tony Henry, our head of player recruitment. Last season we were told that all three present a wish list of players, and that all deals are signed off by all three. I can only assume something similar happened at the end of last season.
So you would expect all three to be firmly abreast of the situation at all times. Then Slaven Bilic goes off for his hip operation and then takes himself away to Croatia with his (new) family and baby for a holiday. That’s fine.
But you would expect him to know the details of the Kelechi Iheanacho dealings. The buy-back clause (at which point I would have canned the deal instantly, it’s just a very expensive loan), the value and the merits of the player and his potential.
Stick with me here. Henry and Sullivan work for months to get a deal in place, as well as personal terms, I am told. Then Bilic returns for pre-season training, and within hours has dumped the whole thing, seemingly claiming that the kid’s future potential is in doubt.
You can only imagine the language from the Henry/Sullivan end of the argument. Surely all this should have been known, discussed and sorted earlier. They do have mobile phones in Croatia. Well they did the last time I was there. So was Slav in the loop?
But Slav has previous for this. You all remember another Henry deal, the one set-up over weeks to bring Scott Hogan to the club. The player being withdrawn from matches, being told the deal was about to happen, and all the annoying disruption to Brentford’s plans.
But right at the death, Slav pulled the plug. The player was not Premier League standard and he didn’t want to waste money he would rather spend in the summer. Nothing I have seen from Hogan at Aston Villa at the moment suggests Slav was anything but spot-on about the lad.
And is seems Slav had expressed a view earlier that Hogan was not his priority.
So you are left wondering how long this transfer trio will last for, longer or shorter than Theresa May stays as PM? Sure you can get a bet on that!
And it also seems that the Joe Hart thing has disappeared since Slav returned from his hollibobs. I recall him dismissing such a deal last season and insisting Adrian and Darren Randolph were good enough. And he didn’t want to spend so much of his budget on a goalkeeper. This desire to protect the cash is becoming a recurring theme, isn’t it?
Now we have the case of Sofiane Feghouli, who did not want to be sold, finding himself being shunted off to Galatasaray. He hasn’t asked for a transfer so I reckon he is due his loyalty bonus under the terms of his contract. But somehow we are arguing about that.
Robert Snodgrass will be sold, they’ll take money for Ashley Fletcher. Strikes me anything that isn’t nailed down at the moment will be sold if we can get a price. And this at a time when we are throwing money at Manual Lanzini, Michail Antonio, Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang to keep them sweet.
Does it suggest to you all out there that Slav has been told to sell players before he can have any new ones? The goalposts seemed to have been moved and the transfer pot is not as big as we were all led to believe.
Now the next bit could see me shot down in flames for not understanding my adding up properly. But…we were led to believe that money would be there for new players once we got up and running at Stratford.
With all the extra money coming from TV, plus the £60/70m we had last season for the market, the pot would be significantly increased.
I have seen some assessment that we would have well over £100m to spend. That could be wishful thinking, and I am sure the chuckle brothers will have a view on why that’s just a pipedream and one they never really put forward anyway. Trouble is gents, that’s what the fans were expecting.
Gold, of course, then makes things worse by taking about ’finding the money from somewhere.’ Alarm bells there, then. And then it emerges that the budget for players is around £45m, the same as last season. All I can say is that this Bermuda Triangle of money is disappearing pretty quickly.
Then there is the £20m that was not spent on Simone Zaza when the deal changed to a £4m loan. I keep being told that I have got this wrong, but where has the money gone? The club’s own website, and darling Karren’s newspaper column, kept including that £20m in the overall total of expenditure last summer, and I have seen it written more than once that the £20m had been banked for future use.
But a financial whiz tells me I am double counting this money when I question why it has not been added to this season, or last January’s, budget. It looks like ’find the lady time’ up the Mile End Road to me, the money is there somewhere but I can’t put my finger on it!
It’s also being suggested now that the new pay day loan regulations are having an impact on our spending, because we used to have money from the Virgin Islands and of course that has now been stopped by the Premier League.
Of course, I hear you say, Everton used to have a similar arrangement. Trouble is, they have found themselves a new sugar daddy to step in and help Bill Kenwright keep the club financially buoyant. We don’t have that, remember, because Sullivan has turned down a couple of approaches to buy into the club, or just take it off his hands.
Of course Everton have had the knowledge that there would be £100m coming their way, plus the budget they were already going to spend. And they have Steve Walsh, their new director of football, to do the business. And how.
Walsh is the scout who they claim set up the Didier Drogba and Gianfranco Zola deals when he worked for Chelsea. He also put together the Leicester squad that won the title, signing up Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N‘Golo Kante. Now Everton have paid Leicester the £1m release clause and Walsh now has Henry’s old job at Everton. Nice one Mr. Kenwright.
So where do we get the money from to replace the pay day loans? Over to you Karren. Did anyone see the lovely holiday snaps of her with her husband relaxing on Sir Philip Green’s yacht last week, being transported around the Med in much luxury?
Now everyone is entitled to chose their own friends, even if they are slimy operators who have been accused of having relieved a lot of folk of their pensions. Nice company you keep Lady Brady, at least we know the sort of people we are dealing with.
Now I mention Green just for my mischievous amusement, nothing more. Because there were lots of allegations that he had an ’interesting ’ role at Everton when they struggled to rub two pennies together.
He was supposed to offer advice to his mate Kenwright on all sorts of things. His name used to get regularly mention when transfer were being discussed. Everton have always denied any such allegations, although they were mentioned at Green’s parliamentary investigation into BHS.
Maybe, just maybe, Lady Brady could interest her mate in West Ham over the on-board bubbly. But then maybe not! It was only a rumour among hacks, and you know how you can’t trust journalists to get anything right.
One final point. There are too many claims flying about that Liverpool fans, and now a Spurs fan, have been able to buy seasons tickets as the club dispose of the 5,000 tickets that were not renewed.
The claims are too frequent, and the Spurs fan claims he has four such tickets, for it not being worthy of investigation by someone at the club.
If we had 50,000 plus on the waiting list, how can someone claim to have bought four tickets? Maybe the club could enlighten us and show that this is just not the case. Or are they just selling tickets to anyone these days?