There is presently an enormous amount of ill will amongst our fans against the owners of the club, even to the extent of an animosity because the West Ham we knew has been destroyed.
So, during this break, with our fortunes hanging in the balance, I believe we should take a look back at the protest after the Burnley game on 10th March 2018 and the effect this had on the owners, as this does demonstrate they listened to the fans and adopted a new approach. They listened and determined that they would give the fans what they wanted – a top manager and a more professional approach to the purchase of players.
Unfortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see this all turned out to be calamitous. But, can this be laid at the doors of the owners? They did have an ambition to turn an average Premier League side into a side which could challenge for a place in Europe.
The latest results for the year ending 2019 are interesting, especially as they set of David Sullivan’s vision, in his words:
The Board made a decision at the beginning of 2018 to embark on an investment programme that would involve bringing in a world -class Manager, investing in better players and making significant investment in the Club’s infrastructure. As a result of this new strategy, we signed Manuel Pellegrini, who has the most successful track record as a Manager in the Club’s history. Furthermore , the Club invested £107.9m in transfer fees, grew the wage cost to £135.8m and invested £4m in facilities at Rush Green(first team squad) and Chadwell Heath (for the Academy).
Unfortunately, as we are aware, Pellegrini turned out to be somewhat clapped out and also, his recommendation to appoint Mario Husillos was disastrous. We shall never know how much blame should be apportioned to Husillos, or whether Sullivan was still interfering in the background and not allowing him to get on with his job.
Another criticism of the owners is that their main priority is to turn a profit on their investment. But this is naïve, because success on the pitch and the value of the club are joined together like Siamese Twins. The recent reports about West Ham being one of the richest clubs in the world are absurd. Forbes value the Club at £478m , but that assumes an operating income of £37m, whereas the Club are losing half a million pounds a week and this will accelerate if the Club drops into the Championship.
Obviously, the move to the London Stadium is high on the list of fans’ grievances. But, who was to know this would turn out to be a giant coffin as far as football is concerned? The Directors gloated in the fact that they got the better of the London Stadium owners, but it looks today as if they were the one’s who were mugged. The Club has to live with the fact that home advantage is a thing of the past. I defy anyone, however, who would have passed up the opportunity to move and let Spurs take over the stadium.
Another grievance of the fans is the position of Karren Brady. She has demonstrated at every opportunity a desire to get away from the traditions of the Club, from proposals to rename the Club Olympic West Ham to adding London to title. Her salary of £1.1 million is beyond belief (what does she do?) and someone should carry the can for the failures. However, there is a suspicion she is unsackable.
To sum up, the criticism of the Directors is overdone. They are, at least, British. They did come forward when the Club had serious financial difficulties. They have listened and major changes were made after the protests at the Burnley game. Unfortunately, these, together with the move to the London Stadium have been calamitous.