Talking Point

West Ham Academy to join a new league 3?

FA Chairman Greg Dyke unveiled proposals last week to increase the proportion of English players in the Premier League from 32 per cent to 45 per cent by 2022 and the number playing regularly from 66 currently to 90 by that date.

He plans to create a new ‘League 3’ in 2016-17 consisting of 10 Premier League B teams plus 10 other clubs coming from the Conference. He says the B-team squads should have no more than 25 players, with 19 of these under 21. Twenty of the twenty five should qualify under the homegrown rule and no non-european players will be allowed.

He wants the Premier League clubs should fund a ‘significant’ financial settlement to clubs in the lower divisions to ensure they do not lose out financially from the proposed reorganisation. He also proposed a cap on two non-EU players per Premier League squad, no players on overseas visas allowed to play below the Premier League, nor loaned to any other club in England.

Under the proposals clubs will be allowed to form ‘strategic loan partnerships’ with up to two lower league clubs, loaning them up to eight players — all of whom would need to be under the age of 22 and homegrown. Increase the number of homegrown players in squads so that 13 out of the 25 players are homegrown by 2021, with at least four of these having come through the club’s youth system

Do you agree with these proposals? Do you think these proposals could help our own West ham Academy restore to its former glory and success in producing West Ham first teamers and England internationals?

The West Ham academy U18’s finished second this season behind Spurs in the South Group but lost 2-1 to Man City U18 leaders of the North group in the play off semi final last week.In the U21’s Premier League Table we finished 9th with Chelsea U21’s pipping Liverpool U21’s to the title.

Book Review

Punk Football at West Ham

Guest Post by Jim Keoghan

Last season, the closing stages of the Champions League represented a victory for supporter ownership. The four clubs that competed in the semi-finals, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were each either totally or majority owned by their fans. In an age when our own domestic top-flight is awash with billionaire owners from across the globe, it’s often forgotten that supporter ownership and success at the very highest level of European football are more than compatible.
Despite this, in the Premier League, and in English football in general, we appear to be light years away from establishing some kind of supporters’ utopia, one in which it’s the fans and not some cigar-chewing plutocrat calling the shots.

Although punk football, the sobriquet adopted by the supporter ownership movement, has been knocking around as a concept in this country for around twenty years, the reality is that it remains a marginal force in our domestic game.

Since the foundation of the first trust at Northampton Town back in 1992, similar organisations have spread across football and today there are 104 them, 73 of which are in either the top-flight or the Football League. But very few of these have achieved their primary goal of taking control at a club. In the top four tiers, examples of majority ownership are confined to League Two, and even here it’s only evident at a minority of clubs, such as AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City and Portsmouth.

Part of our collective hesitancy in embracing punk football can be attributed to a degree of cultural catch-up. For much of our game’s history, the idea of the fans having any say in how the club was run has been alien to both those in charge and amongst supporters too. The board has traditionally been left to run things pretty much as they see fit. In other European countries, such as Germany, Sweden and also in parts of Spain, such a relationship between fan and club is viewed with a sense of horror. Over there, supporters have long seen themselves as being a vital element within the community of the club, one that has a voice which deserves to be heard.

Thankfully, the English perspective has begun to change over the past few decades. Rising ticket prices, a growing sense of disenfranchisement amongst fans and concerns about the way our clubs are run financially have led more and more supporters to challenge the parental relationship that once existed between the fans and the board (and in the process question whether they themselves could do a better job).

But although more of us have come around to the idea of supporter ownership, a stubborn degree of hesitancy persists. And two big reasons for this are the costs involved in takeovers and also the absence of a level playing field once the fans have taken control.

When it comes to costs, let’s take West Ham as an example. Back at the time of the 2010 takeover, the club was valued at £105 million. If a Hammers trust of some description was to have attempted a buyout at the time, even if everyone sitting in the stadium opted to invest, this would still mean an individual share price of around £3000, which would be a big-ask. Taking into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of English supporters trusts don’t have membership level that come close to 35,000, it’s likely that those that who had opted to get involved at the time would have faced a significantly higher cost of investment.

But even if the fans had beaten the odds and managed to raise £105m, what then? One of the main problems facing trusts once they have taken control has been the financial inequality inherent within our game. In short, English football is not a level playing field, and supporter owned clubs often find it hard to compete against peers backed by deep-pocketed owners. This is why several trusts, such as those at Brentford, Notts County and York City have been forced to abandon their dreams of a supporters utopia and sell-up or dramatically reduce their holdings.

There is hope amongst those who would like to see more examples of supporter-ownership that the range of financial regulations recently introduced from the Premier League down to the Conference to control costs, losses and debt could be the key to solving this problem. Although the various pieces of regulation differ from division to division, the overall aim is create greater financial equality, removing both the temptation to go into debt and the destabilising impact that deep-pocketed owners have on a league. While few people involved in the game believe that these moves will produce a sporting utopia, where all teams are financially equal, there is a hope that if they work then something approaching a more level playing field could be created.

Should this happen, the ability of a club with an element of fan-control to compete might increase. This could then make the prospect of trust ownership, whether partial or total, more palatable to fans previously put off by the possibility of stagnation or decline.

But without membership numbers, even this potentially more benign environment wouldn’t be enough to either establish supporter-ownership at somewhere like West Ham or ensure its long term sustainability.

At the moment, trusts at other Premier League clubs, such as United, Liverpool and Newcastle are putting their efforts into building a mass membership and exploring ways in which supporter ownership could one day become a reality at Old Trafford, St James Park and Anfield. For those amongst the West Ham faithful who share this dream, membership of a trust has to be a must.

As big clubs elsewhere in Europe have proven, supporter ownership is compatible with success at the highest level. In the Premier League at the moment, the idea of establishing clubs owned and run along similar lines seems a long way off. But that’s not to say it can’t happen. At worst, the trust model offers the best medium for fans to unite together to express their views and attempt to hold the club to account. At best though, it could be the medium that one day ushers in a new age where it’s the supporters that call the shots.

Jim Keoghan is author of Punk Football: the rise of fan ownership in English football, which is published by Pitch Publishing

Follow Jim on Twitter

Talking Point

Rio coming home?

West Ham academy graduate Rio Ferdinand has left Manchester United and is available as a free agent.

On his own website Rio said:

“I have thought long and hard over the last few months about my future, and after 12 fantastic years playing, for what I regard, as the best club in the world, I have decided the time is right for me to move on.I joined Manchester United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here. There have been so many highlights, playing alongside some great players who have become good friends, winning my first Premier League title and also that fantastic night in Moscow are memories that I will cherish forever. Circumstances didn’t allow for me to say goodbye the way I would have liked but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my teammates, staff, the club & the fans for an unbelievable 12 yrs that I’ll never forget. Winning trophies I dreamed about as a kid came true at this great club.I am feeling fit and healthy, ready for a new challenge and looking forward to whatever the future holds for me”

He is understood to be personally keen to return to his roots and play for West Ham but his wage demands are likely to rule out to a return to the Boleyn ground.The 35-year-old’s departure from Manchester United was confirmed after Manchester United decided not to offer the defender a new deal.

Ferdinand came through the academy ranks at West Ham before moving to Leeds United in an £18m deal in November 2000. He made 127 appearances for West Ham and a return has been long been rumoured for some but it is believed Ferdinand would have to take a massive pay cut for the move to happen. It is believed that Joe Cole who confirmed yesterday he is leaving West Ham took a massive 66% pay cut to return to West ham from Liverpool. Rio is believed to have been on £120,000 per week would have to take a similar pay cut of at least 66% to fit within West Ham current wage structure.

Would you want Rio back in the team next season or have we moved on?


Joining Up the Dots...

Ring ring, went the phone at the radio station. “Hi, it’s xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx’s office here. Just checking that Miss Brady can see xxxx next week as you suggested?” Somewhat mystified, the person who answered the phone asked: “Sorry, Miss Brady?” “Yes,” came the reply. “At West Ham.”

That conversation took place a couple of days ago between the secretary of a rather famous manager and someone who she thought was Karen Brady’s assistant. It wasn’t.

Now call me old fashioned but could this be the reason that we now have to wait ten days until Sam’s fate is determined? Could it be that West Ham want a ready made replacement lined up, and the manager mentioned above could be it.

I’m not naming him because I don’t want to jeopardise anything. I well remember that Martin O’Neill was named as a replacement for Avram Grant and it never happened because he was furious it had leaked out. Suffice to say, though, that if this particular manager was recruited, I doubt whether many West Ham fans would oppose it. He has a stellar track record in this country and overseas.

Yes, I know I’m a tease. But I’ve been called worse.


Sam Allardyce remains in charge of West Ham for now

Unconfirmed reports from Darren Lewis on the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail say Sam Allardyce has survived the marathon end of season review meeting with the board today and remains in charge of West ham United as manager for now.

Darren Lewis added on social media

“West Ham believe the decision over Allardyce’s fate is too big to rush into. Another board meeting scheduled in ten days.”

The Darren Lewis article in the Daily Mirror can be read HERE

The Daily Mail reports a similar story HERE

Sky Sports News report on meeting

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