Similarly to politicians current day players, managers and owners have perfected the art of saying much without having really said anything. It is a deliberatively evasive approach which is alien to West Ham’s co-owners who freely opine about anything and everything. Both David Gold and David Sullivan have an uncanny ability to shoot first and qualify later, knowing their comments will attract media attention. The extent to which they openly discuss club business means there is often a glaring gap between their words and actions. They would presumably be unembarrassed at having these statements relayed back to them but here are some of their more memorable ones since they took control of the Hammers in January.
Sullivan: “Everyone will be asked to take a pay cut this summer. It’ll be Armageddon if we go down. It’ll be worse than what’s gone on at Newcastle. I can’t believe the contracts I’ve inherited.”
West Ham’s high earners remain in place and players such as Scott Parker and Matthew Upson are believed to have been offered contract extensions on improved terms. Despite the short-term signing of Mido on £1,000 a week, Benni McCarthy was signed on a £50,000 a week deal while Frederic Piquionne picks up £40,000.
Sullivan: “It may be cheaper to build a running track somewhere else. I don’t think running tracks work, particularly behind the goal. The customers are so far back it wouldn’t work.”
The club’s vice-chairman Karen Brady has since adopted a more conciliatory stance, working with key stakeholders to enhance their prospects of moving to the Olympic Stadium. Support has now been indicated for the retention of the running track as the stadium’s legacy is likely to incorporate various sports.
Fulham’s selection policy
Gold: “They were beaten 2-0 by Hull and you’re thinking: ‘Come on, how can that be?’ But of course if you put out the ladies team then that’s what’s going to happen.”
Gold soon regretted his comments and the club’s official complaint to the Premier League over Fulham’s selection policy on the eve on another important Europa League tie. The co-owner has since claimed that if in Fulham’s position he would have done exactly the same thing.
Gold: “I would hope he stays. He has been through hell and back. It has been a very difficult season for him. So I hope that this moment of success we are enjoying will continue. I would have thought he deserves another crack.”
These comments were aired in late April after West Ham were mathematically safe. Having delivered what was asked of him, Zola was then sacked soon after the final game of last season. He was initially said to have been dismissed for gross misconduct after speaking out against Sullivan’s claims that every player barring Scott Parker was up for sale.
Gold: “He’s still a great player and it would be a fantastic statement if he came to West Ham. He’s an East End boy and it would be a fitting end to his career. We showed an interest at the end of the season and asked would he come and join us, maybe just half a season on loan.”
Although born in Leytonstone, the England icon has never indicated any boyhood support for the Hammers or even Leyton Orient. Gold has conceded that Beckham, who followed his father in supporting Manchester United, is extremely unlikely to reconnect with his roots. The player’s agent is said to have had no contact with West Ham.
In defence of the straight talking duo, they did deliver on their notable pledge to retain midfield maestro Parker after rejecting the advances of Tottenham Hotspur. Yet after a momentary vow of silence Sullivan has been vociferous in recent days, concerning the perceived lack of effort from the club’s foreign contingent. While ill-conceived comments such as these will inexorably surface, perhaps one of their early pledges needs to be qualified: “We have a seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League.” On current evidence that may need revising.