Talking Point

Agents have grown rotten with greed, double dealing, lies and cheating

Karren Brady has spoken about the world of agents in her weekly football diary in The Sun.

Karren said:

“So far every attempt to limit the cut agents take from players from fees and wages has failed. There is another bus in the distance driven by UEFA, who are asking Prem clubs what they would think of a maximum three per cent commission on both. We like it, of course – I’d like one per cent even more. Currently agents’ earnings from transfers in Europe is a staggering 30 per cent or so and while I would hate to the poor dears without two pennies to rub together, it really is time to the bus came to a halt. It is important there is representation for players when vast sums of money are at stake – but their business has grown rotten with greed, double dealing, lies and cheating.”

West Ham paid agents £4,169,134 and 9 pence between 1st October 2012 to 30th September 2013 and ranked 9th in terms of agent spend in the Premier League just behind Manchester United. In the past four years West ham have paid out £ 17,552,764 and 8 pence to football agents.

In August 2012 David Sullivan told the Daily Mail he had no concerns about the continuing close links between manager Sam Allardyce and agent Mark Curtis. Mark Curtis is the agent for Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan, James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Matt Jarvis and Andy Carroll. In the same interview Sullivan confirmed Willie McKay received more in agency fees than Mark Curtis in the summer of 2012. He revealed ‘Mark [Curtis] receives five per cent of the player’s wages over five years, which is a lot of money but the standard rate’.

Last year just after the January 2013 transfer window ended, David Sullivan called for the FA to look into agents’ conduct and cap fees. He said:

“I can see it spilling over into violence in the future, unless there is legislation from the FA. I had an agent threaten me and one of our players with physical violence, because he thought he was being cut out of a deal.” Sullivan claimed the financial demands by agents had got out of control adding: "We are talking millions of pounds here around a transfer and not enough deals to go around. There are too many agents and not enough transfers to feed them. Agents who would once demand £50,000 for their part in a transfer now want £500,000 to £1m to either bring a player or keep a player. It is quite outrageous and the FA should cap the amount paid to agents for their work”


Nostalgia

TREVOR BROOKING: TRUE DEFINITION OF A HERO

As writing about the current manager, team and the club itself has become too depressing for words most of the time, let’s reflect and remind ourselves of better times, when football was a much simpler game, the fans were largely content to pay their money and be entertained (even when we lost) without aspiring to actually win a trophy, and the world was a better place.

I particularly like this small passage of text (below) extracted from a much longer piece written by Terry Roper that will appear in the next issue of EX magazine, and I’d like to share it with WHTID devotees who don’t get our quarterly publication.

For me, Trevor Brooking was the greatest Hammer of all, for many of the reasons Terry spells out here. This is a reminder of how our heroes used to be. Indeed, it is the definition of a true footballing hero.

Midfield maestro and model professional.

The majestic Brooking won the Hammer of the Year award four times during this decade – in 1972, 1976, 1977 and 1978 – plus a further win in 1984. He is the only player to have won the trophy on five separate occasions.

Brooking’s career was one of almost sanctified respectability, just one booking in 634 league and cup appearances. It was not because he was ostentatiously virtuous, but because he was – and remains – a thoroughly decent man who was very serious about his responsibilities as a professional footballer and, also, towards the club whose colours he wore with such distinction.

One suspects that Brooking was always confident of giving his courtesies to an opponent, because, even when he was beaten, he knew without any trace of arrogance that he was one of the most talented and cultured footballers ever to play the game.

Indeed, Brooking had a truly unique aspect to his armoury inasmuch that, when accepting a pass from a team-mate, he had the wonderful ability to allow the ball to ‘run’ across his body which opened up the whole pitch, thus giving him crucial time and space in which to work his magic.

However, despite whatever else Brooking achieved in his illustrious career, it is a fact that everything about him was immortalised with just one header in the 1980 FA Cup Final against mighty Arsenal at Wembley. One act, one deed, one moment. It was the goal that won the FA Cup for West Ham in the most unlikely of circumstances and gave their fans a euphoric sense of imperishable significance in the club’s history.

Football remains a myth-maker of modern life and Brooking, with that single act, ensured his place as one of West Ham’s favourite sons. Indeed, he was that impossible thing – a superstar without an ego and a hero to whom the concept of being a hero meant absolutely nothing.

Exactly 30 years after his playing career ended, Brooking’s impeccable behaviour on the field of play and the sheer dignity of his bearing still shines like a beacon in a sport that, sadly, abandoned its ethics long ago.


Player Analysis

Winston Reid - a litmus test of resolve and ambition

There are lingering rumours in the media that Arsenal have made Winston Reid a £8m priority transfer target for the summer. These rumours originally commenced before Reid picked up his ankle injury and it was anticipated that a approach would be made in the winter transfer window. As far as I am aware, Wenger has never actually confirmed an interest in signing the player, but who could blame him if he was interested. Winston Reid is a top class central defender and a leader on the pitch.

That last statement is one that most Hammers fans would now warmly endorse. However, that was not always the case and many will clearly recall his deeply unconvincing debut season of 2010-11. A (undisclosed fee) signing from Danish club, FC Midtjylland, Winston had a disastrous PL debut, in an abject 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa, and went on to make a mere 12 first team appearances throughout that relegation season. At the time, Reid’s signing was often put forward as evidence of yet another negative aspect of the Avram Grant managerial regime. Yet Ironically, over time the contrary has proven true, Reid’s capture is the one major positive legacy of Grant’s period of management.

Reid stayed with the club in the Championship and rebuilt his confidence and reputation with some outstanding defensive displays. In that 2011-12 promotion season, He flourished under Sam Allardyce’s management and become a regular first teamer, as the club were promoted ‘at the first time of asking’ via the Play-off Final victory over Blackpool. There were some who thought that he may have just found his level and that he would struggle on the club’s return to the top flight. All such thoughts were dispelled by Reid’s outstanding performances last season, as the Hammers secured a very creditable 10th place finish. And he started the current, 2013-14 season, in a similiar vein, until an ankle injury, sustained in training, in November 2013 resulted in a three month absence. It is no coincidence that the West Ham’s results seriously declined with Reid’s absence and his return on 1 February 2014 was certainly a factor directly contributing to our recent revival.

Winston Reid is an excellent all-round defender, strong in the air and the tackle, with good positional sense and distribution and a decent turn of pace. Moreover, he demonstrates good leadership qualities and could very well be a future club captain. He always strikes one as a dedicated professional, who works on his game and seeks continual improvement. It is a great testimony to the player that he forewent the opportunity to play for New Zealand in their 2012 Olympics team and instead chose to participate in West Ham’s pre-season. It is also to his credit that he so successfully manages the periodic long haul trips to play for his country, without it seeming to adversely impact upon his West Ham performances.

At 25 years of age, Reid has not yet reached his peak as a central defender. He can only get better and must be one of the key building blocks that we use to build a team worthy of West Ham’s move to the iconic Olympic Stadium. If the previously expressed ambitions of the board are to be believed, that they wish to incrementally build a top class team, then Reid must be signed on a new long-term contract. The rumours are that Arsenal are prepared to offer £8m for Reid, a figure that does not nearly compensate for the loss of such an important player. There is further conjecture that a raised bid of £10m plus could convince the club to accept the bid. Once again, so influential is Reid, even an increased fee of that level would be a sufficient catalyst to justify a deal.

The West Ham board should not wait for Arsenal, or anyone else, to submit a bid. They should, as a matter of urgency, sign him on a new improved, long-term deal and kill off their interest. We need to show ambition and build a team that can compete for honours and Champions League football. If we are to do that then we must keep our best players as a foundation upon which to build. Only in that way can we hope to challenge for a top six finish and eventually aspire to Champions qualification. It is always difficult when a top four side shows an interest in one of your players, particularly in terms of managing the player’s ambitions. Champions League football is of great attraction for most players and one can fully understand that. However, Reid is a good professional, who has hitherto shown considerable commitment to the club. As such, it should be possible to sell him an improved deal, linked to the club’s future ambitions and his central role in achieving them.

To me, retaining Reid is a litmus test of the board’s prior rhetoric about its future ambitions. I am not totally sure about Winston Reid’s current contract position. But some sources state that he will be entering the final year of his current contract in 2014-15. If that is true, then West Ham should seek to get a new contract in place now, as a matter of urgency. One may well question whether Reid would sign before West Ham’s PL status is secure this season? If necessary, offer a new contract with a transfer clause in the event of relegation, if that is what it takes to get his signature on a new contract ahead of the conclusion of the current campaign.

SJ. Chandos.


Interview

INTERVIEW: Jonjo Heuerman - A true inspiration.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”. –Joshua J. Marine.

I like to think I set myself challenges and that I have met the majority that I have. However, I have never set challenges as great as Jonjo Heuerman or achieved as much as he has and all by the age of 12. I have followed Jonjo’s work from the very start as he raises money for charities very close to my own heart and of course is a fellow Hammer. As Jonjo is about to embark on his next challenge on Tuesday 18th Feb, I thought it was the perfect time to ask him some questions and find out more about his work.

I am sure most people who follow West Ham know of your work but could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am 12 years old and I was my Nanny’s only grandson when she passed away from bowel cancer. I started secondary school in September and I have only just told my school that I fundraise. I like to keep my school life and my friends separate from my fundraising. I really like meeting people and I love football.

What else do you like to do when you are not raising money?

I love to be at West Ham United, I have been a season ticket holder since I was 4 years old. I also collect 1966 World Cup and West Ham United football memorabilia. I’m just a normal kid and I do normal things. I play on my Xbox and I love to play football and see my friends. My favourite time is playing football with my dog. She is a great goalkeeper. I am really interested in cooking and I would like to be a chef when I am older.

Which charities do you raise money for?

I fund raise for The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. I chose this charity because my Nanny and Bobby Moore both died from bowel cancer.

When and how did your charity work start?

When my Nanny died my sister did some fundraising. She raised £10,000 for our local hospice. I watched what she did and I helped her. I wanted to do something for my Nanny’s memory too so I asked my Mum if I could walk from Wembley to West Ham United. She is not very good at directions and she thought because they were in London they were close. My first walk took me 3 days and was 27 miles and I way 9 years old. I started on my own with my family and I was on TV a lot and when I finished lots of people came to walk with me.

I do my walk every year in February half term because it’s the same week as my Nanny and Bobby’s anniversary. People from around the world come to walk with me and people send me angel names of people who they lost to cancer too. I put all the names on my walk Tshirt and I read out the names on the last day of my challenge at a special memorial ceremony. I have walked almost 200 miles now for nearly 300 angels. I also help by organising events all year too.

Can you tell me about some of your biggest fundraising events?

My biggest event was The Big Football Tag. I asked every one of the 92 English Football League club captains to give me a signed captains armband. I then organised a tag event where fans from each club took their club captain’s armband to the next club in the tag. The armbands were attached to sashes with GPS trackers attached. On the first day of my 2013 challenge I waited at the gates of Upton Park to wait for the armbands to arrive on foot and to tag me. It was amazing, from all around the country they came and within half an hour I had every armband. I carried them to Wembley to get the England captain’s armband for Bobby and bring it back to Upton Park. My walk took me 6 days and I walked 66 miles. All of the armbands are being auctioned for the charity.

I have seen many West Ham greats and other famous people support your work, have you any special memories from any dealings with them?

I was invited to meet David Cameron at Downing Street. That was pretty special. He is an Aston Villa supporter and I told him he supported the wrong claret and blue and he thought it was funny. Speaking at events at the House of Lords was great too.

I have met Billy Bonds a lot and last time he was telling me off for not eating properly. I am a really bad eater and he was trying to get me to eat chicken with him. He made me promise and to train properly for my challenge. All of The Boys of 86 are kind to me and is the first team squad, the owners and staff at West Ham too. A lot of celebrity fans follow me on Twitter and they are kind too and Stephanie Moore is very proud of me. I have had a great time meeting people.

You are due to start another event this Tuesday, could you tell me more about it?

I am starting a 50 mile 5 day football dribble from the centre circle of Southend United to the centre circle of West Ham United before kick off against Southampton. I start the day after my nanny’s anniversary and I finish the day before Bobby’s anniversary. I have two footballs and I am inviting people to come and dribble with me. Lots of people are joining in and I am trying to raise £50,000 for The Bobby Moore Fund.

How can readers support you and contribute to the cause?

They can support me by visiting my Website and buying my charity badges and wristbands or by donating on JustGiving or by coming and joining in. I am trying to get fans to walk the last mile with me – One Moore Mile. They can meet me at the junction of Romford Road and Green Street on 22nd February 2014 at 1:30pm. There is a lot of information about my challenge on my website and I will be wearing a GPS tracker so people can watch my progress or find me to join in. There are maps on my website too.

If fans cannot walk with me they can meet me at the Barking Road statue at 2pm on 22nd February for my memorial service. There is a lot of people coming and it’s going to be really special this year. They can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I like reading the messages on there because it encourages me.

What are your future ambitions?

I want to be a chef and I want to keep fundraising and help find a cure one day. I am walking in Ireland in April and I have been asked to walk to The Vatican, and to walk in New York but I don’t know how or when because of my school work.

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers out there?

I want to say a big thank you to West Ham fans and the club for helping me. I have raised £150,000 so far and the charity estimates that I have generated over £1m in awareness too and I couldn’t do it without lots of help. Thank you for helping me Make Bobby Proud

I would really like to thank Jonjo for taking the time to answer these questions for me, the day before such a big event. I am sure, like me, you find his work inspirational and would encourage you all to support Jonjo and help him reach his fundraising targets. Good luck Jonjo from the West Ham family!!

Please donate as much as you can help Jonjo’s efforts on his JustGiving page


Financial

EXCLUSIVE: The plan to become debt free before we move

When the recent West Ham company accounts were published it showed an outstanding bank debt of £44m in 2013. The re-financing of that debt on 1st July last year appears to have reduced the current bank debt from £44m to £32m not including the £5m short term season pay day loan from Vibrac. The new refinancing deal was secured as a mortgage against the Boleyn Ground and the other freehold land held by the club. The terms of the new loans are the bank debts need to be paid off or refinanced by the end of 2016. Interestingly the new bankers are named as CB Holding ehf and David Sullivan replacing the previous syndicate of five banks from the Icelandic days.

I can exclusive reveal the terms of the re-financing deal for the first time.

In May/June 2013 David Sullivan bought a further 25% of the shares in the club from CB holdings on condition they used the money David paid them to loan back to the club to replace the main bank debt for 3 years by paying off the existing bankers. David Sullivan paid £25.5m for these shares which ultimately ended back in the club to refinance the bank debt. However, there remained a 15% hole of £3.8m in cash needed to pay off the syndicate of five banks, so David Sullivan personally took 15% of the main bank debt so that it could be paid off. It was the only way it could be done as no other banks were prepared to loan us the money. Effectively, David Sullivan become one of our bankers and is named as such in the 2013 financial accounts. It means he invested another £25.5m last year on top of the £10.5m Gold and himself loaned the club last season as shareholder loans. CB Holdings have also loaned West ham £6.7m to take the total bank debt to £32.2m.

With the sale of the Boleyn ground announced last week the chairmen have a plan to be almost debt free by May 2016 when we move to the Olympic Stadium. The current plan is to pay off £5m per year off the bank debt over the next two remaining years at the Boleyn. This reduces the bank debt to £22m by which time we will need to move out and pay off the loans secured against the Boleyn ground. The proceeds of the sale of the Boleyn ground to Galliard Homes will pay the £15m we owe to the LLDC towards Olympic Stadium transformation costs and the surplus of the sale will be used to pay off the remaining bank debt.

I understand Galliard homes were not the highest bidder in the tender process by some distance but considered by the directors as the best fit to preserve the history of the area. Hopes that there would be a surplus from the sale to invest in redeveloping Rush Green or investing in new players now appear to be unfounded. This debt reduction plan relies on West Ham remaining in Premier League until 2016. If we get relegated in the next 3 years all bets and plans to be debt free are off!


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