David Gold: I find money accusations 'irksome'

  • by Staff Writer
  • Friday, 23rd December 2022

West Ham United co-chairman David Gold has hit out at supporters who have criticised the club's board for failing to invest historically in the club and playing squad.

Writing in the recently-updated version of his free book, which he describes as the "ultimate rags to riches tale", the octegenarian referred to the 2018 home clash with Burnley as the point at which frustration with the board "exploded" into life.

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"For me, personally, one of the biggest frustrations and disappointments is the criticism and abuse I’ve been subjected to over the years," he wrote. "The majority [of fans] are friendly, warm and decent people. However, there are a minority of fans who are far less reasonable and much more abusive.

"The situation exploded at the Burnley game when a number of people invaded the pitch. It was around that time that I’d started to see "Gold, Sullivan & Brady Out" banners appearing.

"There was an undertone of discontent which was started by a few but began to gather momentum by the time the Burnley game came around. Burnley scored two goals in quick succession and from that moment on, the atmosphere went from toxic to frightening. It was the first time in my life that I felt unsafe at a football match.

"As a lifelong supporter of the club, I found it all very upsetting and I take it very personally."

And Gold backed his record at the club since he and David Sullivan took over 12 years ago next month, despite having faced some fierce criticism at times.

"I enjoy interacting with our supporters and being as open and transparent with them as I can both in person and on social media," he continued. "But I have to be careful about what I say, especially online, as it can so easily get taken out of context and become a news item.

"Without a doubt, the biggest criticism aimed at both David and myself is in regard to money. I have to say, I find it the most irksome of all the accusations levelled at us. I’ve seen banners saying that we’re greedy, or worse still that we’re thieves. I’d like to dispel some of the myths and set the record straight by laying out the facts.

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"On the day we acquired the club in 2010, David and I each had to invest £50m into the club - £50m to purchase the shares to acquire the club and £50m to reduce the £100m caustic debt.

"What is important to realise is that £25m I loaned came from my personal funds, which I employ two people to manage for me. On average, they would generate approximately 10% interest a year on my capital, through various investments. Now I am only receiving 4% interest on the £25m so that the Club can save 6%.

"I have tried to explain this in interviews and at fans forums over the years and the response always is: 'Why are you taking any interest at all, why aren’t you putting the money into the club free of charge?'

"The simple answer is, I’m not Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour, with near limitless wealth. It must be said though, that David Sullivan and I also pumped £30m to the Club via the pandemic."

What Gold fails to address however is one of the key criticisms levelled by the board's critics, that being they have received interest payments to the tune of some £20million during their tenure - funds which many supporters feel could have been better invested in the club and its infrastructure.

He also neglects to point out that the 4% interest rate charged on the loans provided by himself and partner Sullivan's were only reduced from 7% following hefty criticism from supporters in 2017 - a change which, according to estimates at the time could have benefitted the club to the tune of some £1.5million per annum.

Gold, who celebrated his 86th birthday back in September previously referred to critics of his tenure at the club as "belligerents" and "morons".

And despite the continuing calls for the current board's replacement from sections of the fanbase, he remains steadfastly opposed to those who disapprove of his record at West Ham - claiming that he and Sullivan have adhered to every single pledge they made in May 2010.

"Beyond our initial £100m investment, we have done everything we can to live up to the pledge we made when taking over the club," he insists. "I feel we have made good on all of those points [made in our original 10-point pledge].

"Some may have taken us longer than others, but we have delivered on all ten."

Gold on... Daniel Kretinsky

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"We felt the time was right to bring in a new investor in Daniel Kretinsky. From my point of view the decision to bring in Daniel was with a look to the future. We felt the time was right to introduce some younger blood onto the board.

"I have been hugely impressed with Daniel in all of my dealings with him. He is not only an extremely successful and driven businessman but he is also a true football fan, with a longstanding connection to Sparta Prague. Ultimately, Daniel, David Sullivan and myself all want the same thing, to build on the success we’ve had as a club over the last two years, and I believe that with the three of us now working together, we are in a better position to do that.

"The resources that he has at his disposal will no doubt be of benefit to the club but more than that I think we have a highly intelligent and ambitious new director. Times certainly are changing and I am excited as to where the next stage of the adventure will lead us."

Gold on... Manuel Pellegrini

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"Bringing in Manuel Pellegrini and his team was a hugely ambitious move, one that ultimately didn’t pay off - but that was not through lack of financial support on our part.

"I had reservations about bringing in Manuel Pellegrini. Not because I didn’t like him but because I was a big fan of David Moyes and felt he deserved the chance to take us forward. But everyone was very excited about the opportunity to bring in Pellegrini and fulfilling our promise to bring in a world class manager.

"We gave him everything he asked for and backed him to the tune of £100m in the transfer market. It should have seen us make great st rides forward. And while I’m certainly not looking to cast blame or analyse mistakes, I don’t think the failure to progress was down to a lack of ambition or investment on our part.

"We backed our manager’s judgement. Pellegrini and Husillos identified a list of targets and we went after them. And whilst there were undoubtedly some good signings, unfortunately far too many of them failed to live up to expectation or promise.

"Ultimately Pellegrini’s time at the club, unfortunately, was not the success we had hoped it might be. A catastrophic run of results, which were in no small part down to the manager’s perseverance with Roberto in goal, saw us sitting in the relegation zone a position that did not befit our investment and backing. We felt a change was necessary, before our position became irretrievable. So we acted decisively and turned once again to David Moyes to rescue us."

Gold on... David Moyes

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"Prior to David Moyes’ first full season in charge the club had only finished in the top six of the top flight twice in the last 35 years! The 202021 season was also the first time we genuinely challenged for a Champions League place, and with the revenue that finishing in the top four now generates, it is harder than ever before to break into. That’s why, in my opinion, that season was such a triumph.

"The fantastic job David Moyes has done since he was reappointed in December 2019 is nothing short of magnificent. To take the squad to Europa League semi finals within two years, says as much about his ability as a manager as it does about his character. He h as built an incredible team spirit and has managed to get the very best out of the players.

"David’s dedication and attention to detail are beyond comparison. Every day, he walks into the training ground, obsessed with how he can improve the club in any way possible. There have been some fantastic moments for Hammers fans to enjoy over the last two years. The excitement comes from the fact that we are now going into games against big clubs with a different mentality. As a team, we now have the belief that we can compete with anyone."

David Gold's autobiography may be acquired, free of charge, from his personal website.

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