The Hammers are reportedly £110 million in debt and are looking to slash the club’s £60 million wage bill by cutting salaries of players and staff. West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola has hit out at this, annoyed that Sullivan and Gold didn’t notify him before running off to the press.
One player who is rumoured to be leaving Upton Park in the summer is defender Matthew Upson. The England international’s contract expires next year and it is reported he will be sold to ease the club’s debt. Sullivan told The People:
“If we can get a substantial sum for him then we’ve got to take it. Its business sense…He wants to have one last crack at the big time – Champions League football – and you can’t begrudge him that… He’s in his prime as a centre-half, but he is probably in his last four or five years and it’s not awful that he has to be sold.”
The Hammers hope to replace Upson with members of the youth team, with Sullivan saying:
“You have to bring in younger guys on lower wages, who you hope will be as good or better.
“What we have to do is hang on to the young players, hang on and wait for them to come through, and we’ll have a fantastic team in five years.”
You cannot argue that the new West Ham owners know what they are doing, having both worked wonders at Birmingham and leaving the club with little or no debt in their time in charge. It’s hard to believe that when they took over at West Ham, they were talking about bringing in a £100,000 a week player, rumoured to be Ruud van Nistelrooy, to the club, and now they have completely shifted their perspective. But would selling Upson be the right choice for West Ham or would it just be admitting defeat?
Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs have all been linked with the former Birmingham man, and West Ham could use the money from Upson’s transfer to buy a cheaper replacement and use the remaining money to pay off their debt. But how much could you realistically get for the 30 year old? £8 million? £10 million? £12 million? Even if West Ham manage to sell Upson for a lot of money, and then buy a defender for half the price, whether you can get a good enough replacement for £5 million in today’s market is debatable. There are rumours that Upson is unhappy at Upton Park and wants to leave, but selling Upson would be West Ham admitting defeat and telling the fans that the club just wants to survive for the next few years.
If the Hammers do get relegated this season, then this is a whole different situation and Upson and other key players will have to be sold to balance the books. But ultimately, if West Ham avoid the drop, they need to keep Upson at the club and encourage him to sign a new deal at Upton Park. I can understand West Ham not wanting to lose their star defender for nothing in a year’s time, but they will not be able to get a good enough replacement for little money, and would be setting themselves up to struggle next season.
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