The Sean Whetstone Column
I write this column on a sunbed by the pool in Costa Del Sol. From a selfish point of view, I have no problem with playing the first four games away from home. It means for once I don’t miss the first home game of the season because of a family holiday and I miss all the train chaos around South West Trains engineering works at Waterloo over August.
I have of course been watching all the games from Spain as the international coverage is much more widespread than our domestic showings so I don’t need to miss a second of the action from my sunny family holiday. When the third goal went in at Newcastle I droned by sorrows by diving in the deep end of the pool. I even managed to record our West Ham podcast Moore Than Just A Podcast from Spain thanks to a great new technology called Zencastr so it sounds like I am still in the room with George, John and Nigel.
Just before I jetted off to Spain I spoke to West Ham Co Chairman David Gold for an hour long exclusive interview just one day before West Ham kicked off their Premier League season. We talked about a range of subjects and Gold took the opportunity to clarify comments he made on social media about West Ham’s youth players.
In June the Joint Chairman said on twitter
“It’s hard for a teenager to break into the first team and it becomes even harder as the first team gets better but they are, not teenagers forever. dg”
Gold started by telling me:
“Just remember what I said, I simply said and I put in brackets ’teenagers’ Teenagers breaking into the first team in the Premier League, the greatest league in the world is difficult, I never said it was impossible, I said it was difficult but that’s not to say when you get to 20 or 21 it starts to Moorethanget a bit easier. If you take the first game of the season on Friday night you look at that game and tell me how many teenagers were playing in that game, I don’t know but I am pretty confident that they were no teenagers playing in that game, were there 20 year old’s? well possible but that is not a teenager, a teenager is 17, 18 or 19.”
“I think we have one of the best group of young players (at West Ham) for a long, long time without me being specific, some have come have gone through the academy, some have been bought in but we have some very exciting young players, but are they going to get in the team at 17,18 or 19 ? I doubt it but what they are being groomed to give them the opportunity to break into our team when they get in their twenties and they we will see them blossom”
Asked about the age old question whether he would sell up he replied:
“I think David Sullivan has made it clear that he has no desire to sell his shares, I have made it clear time and time again that I have no desire to sell my shares.
“My love and passion in my life all revolve around West Ham, I have achieved many different things in my life and the most driving force in my life is my football club, our football club. Why would I sell? It’s my life, If I sell, what do I do? Go fishing? I just love the involvement, I have fulfilled my wildest dreams.”
“Here I am now a joint owner with my friend and colleague. Why would I want to sell? The only time you would sell is in the event that you believed a buyer could do a better job than you but at the moment we are doing a decent job.We have never had an offer, we have never had a situation where for the best interest of the football club we should sell, that has never occurred.”
“Until that happens we don’t have an issue, even then I would want and I am sure David (Sullivan) would want also to be part of a new regime if ever there was such a thing but right now we are very very happy and we think we are doing OK. It is difficult, we have probably been through the most traumatic event in probably the history of our football club in migrating to a new stadium and we think we are doing OK”
Eighty-year-old Gold also mapped out his succession plan whilst doing everything possible to live until he is 100. Asked the question he said:
“The situation would be that my daughters would inherit my shares as indeed young David Sullivan and young Jack will”
“Jack is clearly being groomed as you can see and his passion for the football club is quite clear, my daughters are business women and their contribution in the future I think would be very valuable and I could see both the Sullivan boys and the Gold girls forming a board that would be well balanced.
“Don’t forget my daughters are passionate fans as well. They have obviously got responsibilities of running Ann Summers the business but that wouldn’t preclude them from being on the board at West Ham at some time in the future as the young Sullivans would part and parcel of it.This is how David Sullivan and I see the succession but you never know, there is a long way to go, hopefully, I am going to live to 100 and I am doing everything possible to make sure that happens.”
“They talk about West Ham being A family, the board is also a family when you take the Sullivans and Golds, Its a family thing and with West Ham claiming we are Moore Than A Football Club and you often hear Mark Noble talk about the family, the West Ham family, I think that we are part and parcel of that.
Gold explained the situation around the share holder loans David Sullivan and himself have loaned the club and justified the interest they receive on them saying the football club is better off while they are worst off from the arrangement and he withdrew the money from other investments as he didn’t have the money lying under the bed contrary to popular belief. Gold said:
“When we came into the club, the club had some very caustic debts where they were paying interest at 10% and not only were they paying a high rate of interest but they were caustic in the sense what could happen there is if the club couldn’t meet the repayments or the interest they could foreclose and put the club in administration. If the debt is out debt, we are not going to foreclose so we are a safer lender because we are only ever going to take our repayments and don’t forget if you go back to the original (loan) these debts, the interest on these debts were at a very high rate. The reason was, people didn’t want to lend money to West Ham United football club 10 years ago so the interest rates were very high. We replaced those high-interest rates with a lower interest rate so the minute we put the money in and paid off those debts, West Ham were paying 10% now West Ham United football club, our football club is now only paying interest at 6%.”
“To loan West Ham money, it wasn’t money that was under the bed and gave to West Ham and now we are earning 6%, that’s not true. To be able to fund those loans, I had to remove investments that were returning me 10% plus so I cash in my investments that were showing me a 10% minimum and I loan that money to West Ham at 6% so I am now 4% worse off, West Ham are 4% better off because they were borrowing money at 10% and now they are borrowing at 6% so the football club is better off, it is more secure, the only losers are David Sullivan and myself because we are loaning money at a lower interest than we were.”
“These investments are basically the inherence of my daughters and I have a responsibility to ensure that I am doing sensible things. I am not doing what Mark Goldberg did, I am not doing what Simon Jordan did which to take their wealth, pump it into the football club and wake up one morning and their £36m that they sold their business for has disappeared. Now, what use is Mark Goldberg’s Crystal Palace, now what use is Simon’s Jordan now to Crystal Palace.”
You can listen to Part two of the full David Gold interview at moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk below
Part one of the Interview can be found “HERE”: https://www.acast.com/moorethanjustapodcast/season-7—-episode-1—-were-back-with-david-gold-part-1