2023, the wind of change

Declan Rice is going, he wants to play with his pals in the Champions League. Who’d have guessed, I mean he’s only been saying the same thing for months.

It will be in the summer, right in the middle of the time many feel David Sullivan and the GSB will be on the way out. Slap bang in the middle of a year like no other in West Ham's history.

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December's here. Christmas next and then a happy new year. But just how happy will 2023 be for our beloved West Ham?

We are facing the most turbulent year imaginable. For owners, our captains, past and present, players and manager - and us - it's hard to know where to start. Now it could go smoothly and my fears for the future could be misplaced.

Then again it could be a year of turmoil that will test us all. What way will it go, who knows, but this is West Ham. I'll leave you to guess.

Let's start with Rice, who seems to be getting pilloried for answering simple questions with simple answers at an England press conference. But repeating himself for the umpteenth time over his ambitions that we all know will not be realised at West Ham. Some people are in denial, they should start paying attention more.

We haven't built the Champions League level side around him, despite considerable effort, and we haven't finished in the top four. End of story, thanks for everything Dec and don't you dare join Spurs, or Chelsea for that matter. Some hopes there with his Surrey post code.

OK, that's the captain, and maybe he shouldn't have the armband any more.

Now there is a year of disruption coming up. Moyes has been under the lash from the twitter lynch party for months. Sullivan does not want to sack him because of the £4m compo from 18 months of his contract, plus all that unnecessary expense of employing a new man.

But with our league position and one league win in six, if the next six games go tits up - Brentford, Arsenal, Leeds, Wolves, Everton and Newcastle - the clamour for change will be impossible to ignore.

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And then there's the contracts. Ben Johnson is getting nowhere, Vladimir Coufal is out of contract in the summer and the same applies to Manuel Lanzini and Darren Randolph. The latter will surely be released. There are issues over Angelo Ogbonna too. Craig Dawson presumably still wants away while Lukasz Fabianski and Aaron Cresswell have extended their deals.

Full-back Harrison Ashby looks a problem - the son of former Watford, Brentford, Gillingham defender Barry Ashby, he seems to be on his way to Newcastle. He won't sign a new contract, his dad is a registered intermediary and he is represented by the giant Wasserman agency. It seems all cut and dried to me.

The Scottish Under 21 defender has Coufal, Johnson and Thilo Kehrer in front of him at West Ham and will be behind Kieran Trippier at Newcastle. But I'm sure the money is good, better than his offer at West Ham, no doubt.

So there's plenty to occupy us on the playing side , and an upcoming transfer window that seems unlikely to involve us much, what with the recent spending spree and the pending departure of ownership never keen on throwing money around.

It's what is going on behind the scenes that is more of a concern. We all know that the need to pay tax to the treasury ends in March as part of the deal when West Ham moved to Stratford. But the general belief that Sullivan and his mates will be on their bikes then has never been confirmed. In fact, quite the opposite. They could stick around and keep drawing down the interest on their loans.

So where would that leave minority shareholder Danny Kretinsky, who has an option, not necessarily an obligation, to buy the club, at a figure you assume has been agreed?

I still don't really know what to make of the Czech. He seems to buy stuff - Sainsbury's, Royal Mail, West Ham - and not really do much to improve the asset. He was allowed by the government to buy more Royal Mail shares recently and ended up on the front page of the Daily Mirror in the midst of industrial action, with threats of 25,000 job losses and three-day-week deliveries. I do hope that was not his idea.

And what will he be taking over at West Ham? You hear from various sources that none of last summer's transfer were anything to do with him financially. The suggestion is, not confirmed of course, that the potential Rice fee was factored in.

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We spent around £182m on eight players. But the way transfers are structured over the length of contracts, likely to be five years, that suggestions only around £40m was spent with the rest falling in the laps of any potential new owner.

So are we being sold or not? It's all a complex guessing game, with suggestions it may be much later in the year. You have to wonder who will be the owner lumbered with the tag as the man who sold Declan Rice, who with his contract running down now could well go for less than £100m.

As for the stadium, the rumour mill is in overdrive. The London Legacy Development Corporation, the planning authority for the Olympic Park ceases to exist next year, with mayor Sadiq Khan having more direct control, it seems.

GSB would love the opportunity to run the stadium, but do they want to take over the vast debts incurred? And will they be around anyway?

But with all this change and uncertainty, are there other potential buyers for the Olympic Park? You hear all sorts of suggestion about how the horrendous loss-making stadium will be controlled. Even the likes of Jim Ratcliffe, the county's richest man, has been rumoured to be sniffing around the site.

He's also a Manchester United season ticket holder (and Chelsea) and is linked with ambitions to buy the club from the Glazers. All that seems pie in the sky and just twitter rumour.

Then there is the suggestion that US and UK investment groups are interested in the regeneration of the Royal Dock with a possible new stadium for someone incorporated in that. Hey, you go on forever repeating tittle tattle.

But without doubt we are facing a long year of change, disruption, financial wheeler-dealing and uncertainty. And our old mate Mark Noble is about to walk back as sporting director, seemingly with involvement in transfers with Moyes. Welcome back to the funny farm, Nobs, nothing has changed since you've been away.

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