Blame the board for West Ham's ills

The main problem at West Ham is the so-called Board. I say so-called, because in truth it's David Sullivan's company, he's the 51% majority shareholder which means he cannot be outvoted on anything.

I've also used the word company, rather than club, quite deliberately: the former is a business enterprise, the latter far, far more than that, but make no mistake the two are very different.


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At the heart of all of our issues is money, or lack thereof. The "company" is underfunded, being financed almost exclusively by the retained earnings from profitable trading rather than legitimate shareholder equity. A reminder for readers.

Sullivan and David Gold have injected just ?26m of equity into West Ham United FC. They have, meanwhile, in the past decade taken out ?16.8m in interest payments, plus the ?28m cash from the sale of the Boleyn Ground.

In other words they have taken out more money from West Ham United than they have put in.

Those numbers are factual, and are all available in the company's published accounts. We await the most recent set of accounts with baited breath to see how much more Sullivan and Gold have taken out; you can be certain they won't have put anything in, so no need to waste time looking for that.

It's that lack of funding that means manager after manager has to make do and mend with a patchwork squad, with the jam being so thinly spread it is unable to cover the whole slice so to speak.

There was a question mark over Pablo Zabaleta when we signed him, but to grant a contract extension was madness: the Board will of course claim it was the manager's decision to grant an extension, the truth however is to ask what was his alternative? Nobody? Another ageing player? An unproven youngster?

Meanwhile turning to central defence, who exactly authorised such a long-term extension for Winston Reid? Was it the manager beating down the Chairman's door, insisting that a central defender we signed for ?3m a lifetime ago was central to his plans and was a must keep player, or did the Chairman make it clear no funds would be provided to sign an alternative?


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The manager signed Fabian Balbuena for ?4m, meanwhile Jonny Evans joined Leicester City for ?3.5m. Again, can we level criticism at the manager because we paid more for a player with no Premier League experience than Leicester did for a player once deemed good enough for Manchester United? Not unless we know how much the player is getting paid, we can't.

Regardless of the fee, the player will sign for whoever offers him the best prospects. That's a combination of wages, team mates and the chance to win a trophy. The fact that Evans picked Leicester says much about how our club is perceived by the professionals. To Evans, they looked a better bet.

Further up the pitch, funds have been provided for the signing of Pablo Fornals - who, after a shaky start, is starting to look half decent. Of course, the Chairman can do so armed with the knowledge he can always sell Declan Rice in due course and get his money back.

After all, what manager wouldn't want to build his midfield around the 32-year-old Mark Noble, he's been picked 500 times by around eight or nine managers, so he must be good for at least one more season, right ? Or, due to the contract he has, three more.

I'm not knocking Nobes by the way, I think he's double mustard - but even I can see the end is coming for this magnificent club servant.

The Chairman of course can point to the money spent on Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Sebastian Haller and he would have a fair point were he to ask are they really doing enough to justify their fees.

For my money they are not, but had the Chairman dipped in to his pocket and found another ?45m could we have signed two athletic, energetic midfielders, two decent full backs or a combination thereof. Might that have allowed the manager to get more from the three players I've mentioned?


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But no, the Chairman deemed it more appropriate to keep taking cash out of the company; ?16.8m in interest payments and ?28m for the Boleyn Ground, i.e. a total of ?44.8m.

The Chairman has prioritised making money for himself and his fellow shareholders above providing the resources the manager needs to build a competitive team, and for that reason he needs to shoulder the burden of blame.

Should we fall through the trap door he will know, in his heart that he, not the manager, miscalculated. Brought down by his own greed, because he wouldn't need to put his hand in his pocket had he simply left the money in the club he and Gold have been taking out.

Sullivan needs to make his mind up. Is he running a company from which he expects a return, or a club which could be self-financing and successful providing ALL of the funds the club generates are retained in the club - not just the bare minimum, or whatever Sullivan decides it has to make do with because he wants to take some money out of his personal cashpoint.

?44.8m is a huge sum to a club the size of ours. David Sullivan has sold the manager short.


* This article was written in response to the following KUMB Poll: 'Who do you hold chiefly responsible for WHUFC's current position in the EPL?'

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