Explaining West Ham's £100 million of debt

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West Ham co-owner David Sullivan’s comments that the club is still £100m in debt have caused some confusion among some Hammers supporters.

He told Jim White on Talksport last week:

“It’s a difficult one because we’re not a bottomless pit. We still have to balance the books and we still have £100million of debt.”

Many still believed the board promised that the club would be debt free when they sold the Boleyn Ground

In fact those original comments were talking about external bank debt although I accept that was not precisely highlighted at the time. Gold later clarified on social media last year by saying

“We never said we would be free of debt, we said we would be free of BANK debt which we now are. dg”

In simple terms, you can’t clear a £100m debt unless you make £100m of profit so they have merely moved much of the external bank debt to shareholder loans which will now mature in January 2020.

Many disgruntled fans will always believe it is all smoke and mirrors but below I will try to explain five straight forward key numbers from West Ham financial accounts for the six years following the Gold and Sullivan take over to explain why we haven’t paid off the £100m of debt.

The key numbers are turnover (the amount West Ham earned in the year), Operating profit or loss for the year before player trading and interest and the general profit/loss after player trading and interest payments are taken into account.

The figures below show the club earned £665m in six years after the takeover and made a net operating profit of £97m but it spent a further £124m net on transfers and another £31m in interest payments creating an overall loss of a further £59.5m over those six years.

In 2010 West Ham had £110m of debts made up of £50m owed to banks £40m owed to other clubs and £20m owed to Sheffield United. In 2016 the ‘£100m of debts’ is made of £61.4m owed to two Davids from shareholder loans and £35.5m to other clubs for transfers so just under £97m.

As for the sale of the Boleyn Ground for £38m last year. £15m went to the LLDC for the conversion of the London Stadium £15m went to banks to pay off loans mortgaged against the Boleyn Ground and the remaining £8m went to fit out the new shop and offices at the London Stadium plus the WestHamification of the stadium includinf the cleart and blue seats.

First published on

Talking Point

I am tired of Andy Carroll and his excuses

I’ve reached the end of my tether with Andy Carroll.

In 2013 we made him our record signing investing £15.5m in the striker, made him our top earner with a basic of £85,000 per week and an overall package understood to be closer to £100,000 per week.

We have been patient, we have been tolerant, we have turned a blind eye but the excuses are getting boring now and there is only so long a club and their fans can keep faith in one player.

According to he has missed 851 days of training for West Ham since joining and been absent for 109 competitive matches so far.

We have been told of countless various injuries being just bad luck but we have also told that an operation would fix a long term problem once and for all.

His injury record is one thing but then his social life is too often in the headlines.

We are told he is a reformed character since meeting his fiance Billi Mucklow and having a child with a second on the way.

Despite his insistence, he is now a family man social media pictures all too regularly pop up. He was pictured drinking pints in the Slug and Lettuce pub in Canary Wharf as the Hammers beat Crystal Palace in October last year, with that tabloid story coming after he allegedly pulled an all nighter with Darren Randolph in Shoreditch after a team bonding session authorised by boss Slaven Bilic.

CarrollThe latest pictures of Carroll allegedly partying in Magaluf last weekend come at a time when he is missing from the first team squad in Germany as they prepare for the start of the new season.

Despite posting social network photos from around the world on his holidays over the summer it appears he will not be match ready for the start of the season.

Of course, he has the right to a personal life and has the to go out for a beer if he wants but until he can pay back the Hammers faith in him he needs to be discreet and not allow himself to be exposed on Twitter or elsewhere.

Personally, I’ve reached the end of the line with Carroll and were I Chairman I’d try to negotiate to cancel his contract by mutual consent thus allowing him to join another club as a free agent assuming he could find one.

With just under two years remaining on his contract that would save almost £9m in wages alone. I hope I am proved wrong and he makes a miraculous recovery but I won’t hold my breath.

This blog was first published at but Iain asked me to republish on WHTID to stimulate debate on the subject.


Talking Point

David Sullivan Talksport Interview in full

West Ham Chairman David Sullivan went on Talksport radio this morning to speak to Jim White and former Hammer Tony Cottee about the transfer window for West Ham.

Sullivan told White and Cottee

“We have been working very long and very hard on them, eight days ago we had one deal in the bag with Mr Zabaleta which I think is a fantastic signing. We happened to pull three together in a week but these deals take forever. This is the hardest I have ever come across with the demands of the players, the demands of the clubs (and) the valuations”

“We are all holding our mouths open and can’t believe some of the things going on and in the middle of that we are trying to do business.”

“We have had a policy this year up to now of buying players for now, not tomorrow so we made a decision in the summer with the manager to buy players for positions that we needed which we thought could deliver straight away, that are proved in the Premier League, have been here before and at an age where they are not being bought for tomorrow, they are being bought for today. Long term it is not a great strategy but short term it probably is. We might still buy one or young players, one or two investments for the future, re-juggle the pack a little bit more and all the time you are trying to do what is best for the club.”

On the signing of Hernandez Sullivan added:

“I think he is potentially he is best player that has ever come to the club in recent years I would say, he is the best-proven goal scorer we have signed since we have been at the club and he has done it in the Premier League with Man United, he scored a goal every two and a half games for Man United so that’s a pretty good record. He is the most lovely, lovely person everyone who met yesterday said. We were lucky he only had a year to go with his club which allows you to negotiate a deal.We tried to get him two years ago and unfortunately chose the German club ahead of us. we tried very hard then. Again it is a deal that has been going on all summer. People say why aren’t you signing anyone, why aren’t doing this. Well do you sign him for 20 million Euros three weeks ago or 18 million Euros this week”

“We still have to balance the books, we still have £100m of debt, we are trying to buy the best value we can for the club. Whether they turn out good buys only time will tell but we are very very optimistic with the four players we have signed We think all four can make a huge difference”

On Dimi Payet Sullivan said

“I think we knew Dimitri was flawed when we got him or £10 or £12 million pounds, I think we paid ten and a half million pounds which was a fantastic buy but we knew we bought a flawed individual. We knew it was an individual who could well go on strike. He has done it all before and that’s well he never really reached his full potential as a player and why big clubs steered clear of him.”

“However I must say, he was a fantastic servant for the club, gave us 18 wonderful months, particularly the first 12 months. We didn’t want to sell him but we got two and a half times what we paid for him and you have to say whether that was good business. It is not what we wanted but at West Ham we sometimes have to sell, we wouldn’t have sold unless we had to sell him. We had meeting after meeting with him, he wanted out, the manager wanted him out, he didn’t want an unhappy camp and you have to (give) support”

“I would have made him stick it out for six months personally and given him a hard time but if the manager says it is unsettling the whole camp you have to support the manager”

On last season’s signings Sullivan added:

“I like a couple of players we signed last year, I think they will come good for the club, Arthur Masuaku will come good, I think Edimilson Fernandes will come good. They are both players which cost around £5m each. They will turn out to be very good buys for the club but the strikers, we signed two strikers on paper. They were strikers on loan with options to buy as had a had a doubt about them. It is beyond our belief not how badly they both were. Calleri worked his socks off but couldn’t score and Zaza looked like he was totally disinterested”

Listen to the full 11-minute interview below

Talking Point

The hypocrisy of Spurs over State aid

In 2011 Spurs led by Chairman Daniel Levy initiated a wave of legal challenges to seek a Judicial review of Newham’s Council’s £40m loan as part of a West Ham bid for the former Olympic Stadium with the aim of derailing the Hammers occupancy of the London Stadium which he had lost out on.

As each legal challenge was rejected by the courts they started a new one challenging the loan in a different way until finally, they were permitted a hearing in August 2011. Spurs later offered to withdraw their legal challenge if West Ham agreed to drop allegations of criminal conduct against them over phone hacking of Karren Brady but the Hammers refused.

In December 2013: Three investigators pleaded guilty of illegally obtaining Karren Brady’s phone records during the initial battle for the stadium. The lead investigator worked for accountants PKF, who were engaged by Spurs. The company and Spurs both denied any knowledge of illegal activities.

At a high court hearing in 2011 lawyers for Karren Brady and West Ham won an order requiring accountants PKF, hired by Spurs to conduct “due diligence” on the first bidding process for the Olympic Stadium, to hand over “unlawfully obtained” copies of Brady’s itemised phone bills.

In 2013 Richard Forrest pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to obtaining personal data contrary to the Data Protection Act 1998 was fined £10,000. Lee Stewart was fined £13,250 after admitting the same charge. Howard Hill employed Spurs accountants was given a £100,000 fine.

Spurs finally agreed to withdraw their legal challenges after the initial tender process collapsed after a complaint by Architect Steve Lawrence to the European commission over potential state aid. The legal challenges were seen by many as attempts to get more political leverage to get planning and funding to redevelop White Hart Lane.

In September 2011 the then London mayor Boris Johnson frustrated at Spurs legal threats and game playing threatened to withdraw an offer of £17 million of public support to Tottenham’s new stadium development if Spurs did not commit to their stadium project in the next three weeks.

In February 2012 Spurs were permitted to go back on an obligation of £16m of funding for the community as part of its new stadium project.

The section 106 money was to be used by Haringey council for social housing, school places and other road and transport links but the club said the commitment was not viable and were allowed remove it. The new section 106 agreement doesn’t specify a set amount but instead makes promises of things including free match tickets and free shuttle buses.

At the time of the first removal of section 106 money Richard Wilson, leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, said the council was so “desperate” to get the club’s investment it had not stood up for residents and council taxpayers. He said “not a single affordable home” will now be built and yet there are 3,000 people on council waiting lists.

In 2012 Haringey Council also agreed to fund Spurs with £5m towards a podium outside the stadium and a further £2.5m for what they called heritage improvements.

Fast forward four years and in February 2016 the then London Mayor Boris Johnson agreed on a £18m investment in infrastructure around the Stadium project from a £28m fund for the Tottenham area. £8.5m on improvements to High road adjacent to the new stadium and £3.5m to improve Tottenham Hale Station to allow for increased footfall. Haringey Council also offered an additional £9m to help improve Tottenham Hale station.



Tottenham Hotspur says the claims by a blog written by ‘Haringey Defend Council Housing’ over the weekend are factually incorrect and outdated.

They claim the presentation in question is from 5 years ago and the proposal for an additional £30.5m to fund the podium area outside their Stadium was later withdrawn.

Original claims from Blog:

2012 Presentation:

Harrrigey Council released a press statement over the weekend denying the existence of the £30m of funding.

Haringey Press Statement:

Post note:

Subtracting the claimed £30.5m from the equation by my calculation Spurs will benefit by £45m of committed public funding for infrastructure around the stadium.

I still believe questions need to be asked about this tax payer funding. I understand that Arsenal paid £60m in section 106 when they built the Emirates Stadium but documents publicly show Spurs have made some community promises including Free match tickets and shuttle buses.

The section 106 documents can be found at

Architect Steve Lawrence who scuppered the first West Ham bid for the London Stadium over a complaint over state aid to the European Commission as said in relation to Spurs “I’ve raised this issue with the Commission, the Mayor’s office & others – it’s essential that the same rules apply to all clubs, across Europe, State aid rules will continue to apply after Brexit & clubs which accept subsidies must ensure they meet the rules of fairness ??”

Adding that: “Each user of publicly subsidised infrastructure must pay a market rate”

Talking Point

The men and women involved in the £1 billion London Stadium financial fiasco

This week London Stadium owners London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) revealed that liabilities for what they now call ‘Onerous’ loss making contracts with West Ham and UK Athletics will cost them an estimated £200m in future losses which will be ultimately be paid by the taxpayer.

Draft financial accounts for E20 Stadium LLP and LLDC reveal is that revenue for the London Stadium for the year up to 31 March 2017 is recorded as £6.588m against the cost of sales of £10.614m The operating loss is listed at an incredible £205.206m with a total comprehensive loss recorded as an eye-watering £268.245m.

They explain that £200m of the losses relate to liabilities for onerous contract provisions that have with West Ham United and UK Athletics with a further provision of a £62.3m loss relating to impairment which is the reducing value of an asset you own, namely the Stadium with the valuation of Nil.

Newham Legacy Investments (NLI) which owns the remaining forty percent of the London Stadium also published their draft financial accounts this month. They reveal they lost another £2.5m in the financial year up to April 2017 on the Stadium. The latest loss for Newham is on top of a reported £41.6m loss recorded last year for the company setup by Newham Council. NLI now have net liabilities totalling £44.4m primarily due to the £40m loan from Newham Council of which no repayments have been made to date. Many doubt whether Newham Council will ever see any repayments of this loan.

These losses come on top of the total cost of building and rebuilding the former Olympic stadium which already stands at £753m.

With existing operating losses to date, the total cost to the Tax payer could now easily reach the £1 billion mark.

The current London Mayor ordered an investigation into the decisions which led to the financial disaster and its future financial sustainability which will be published later this year by Moore Stephens.

In this article, I delve into the men and women involved in those decisions or challenges which inevitably led to the financial mess we are in today. I place no personal accusations or blame of their involvement but collectively they got us to where we are today and each must take some responsibility for their involvement in my personal view.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Sports Minister Tessa Jowell Lord Sebastian Coe & Lord Moynihan

Former sports minister Richard Caborn claims he was voted down by then London 2012 chairman, Lord Coe, the then Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell, the then mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and the British Olympic Association’s chairman, Lord Moynihan over his proposal in February 2007 for an Olympics stadium designed and built for Athletics and football from the start.

Former West Ham Chairman Terry Brown had met with Sports Minister Richard Caborn in October 2006 about the club’s interest and Caborn was said to be supportive.

In 2007 after the Icelandic takeover Eggert Magnusson criticised the Government openly saying: “I don’t understand why we are not able to go to the Olympic Stadium. We offered money, we sent letters and we described how we saw things happening. We had a meeting at the House of Commons with [Olympics minister] Tessa Jowell and [Mayor of London] Ken Livingstone and it was not possible. As a businessman it makes no sense to me [to] build a new stadium and then take it down to 25,000.”

Magnusson later admitted he had offered the Olympic Delivery Authority £100m to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, but says their proposal was eventually turned down. I spoke to Magnusson earlier this year and he says he stands by the quotes at the time and says the articles were an accurate reflection of what happened.

Current LLDC CEO, David Goldstone recently defended his predecessor’s decisions not to build a stadium suitable for football in 2007 claiming no football club was willing to commit at that time to his knowledge. Giving evidence to the London Assembly Budget Monitoring Sub Committee in December last year Goldstone said: “With hindsight would you have made that decision in 2007 to build a multi use stadium rather than the one that was built for the games which was demountable to a 25,000 seater bowl. I would say the information available I believe at the time was there wasn’t a football club who would commit then so it would have been slightly speculative, it would have risked it being a white elephant."

London 2012 Forum Chair Richard Sumray admitted in written evidence that West Ham had in fact been interested in taking over the Stadium when he discussed it with the club himself in 2001. He later said he regretted the countered proposals which aimed to put athletics “in the mix” which in his view “made the whole process of finalising the ownership and uses of the stadium much more difficult. Early on a decision should have been made to use the main stadium for football, converting the warm up track to an athletics stadium. This would have been a more sustainable and appropriate use of that part of the park.” he stated.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson was not only the London Mayor also took over the Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation for a period of time. London Assembly member Andrew Dismore, once told Johnson “You wanted to cover up the fact West Ham had put one over on you and taken you to the cleaners.”

While still Mayor, Boris said that the LLDC was left with no choice but to undertake the expensive conversion scheme in an attempt to clean up the “mess” left by the previous Labour government. He also laid the blame squarely at Ken Livingstone, Tessa Jowell and Lord Coe doorsteps. However, his insistence on hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the London Stadium and what impact that had on the stadium transition programme and in particular retractable seating is expected to come under scrunity and criticism in the Mayor’s £140,000 investigation report due out later this year.

Dennis Hone served as the Chief Executive of Olympic Delivery Authority and London Legacy Development Corporation from February 2011 until 2014. From 2006 to 2011 he was director of Finance and corporate services for the ODA. Mr Hone was appointed as chief executive of the authority in February 2011, replacing Sir David Higgins, who joined Network Rail. Hone was paid £233,000 in salary, a bonus of £153,000 and received £36,000 in pension contributions. He also spent two days a week as interim chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, the body overseeing the legacy of the Olympic Park. He was paid £90,000 for this. The two jobs brought his total pay package to £512,000 per year. In addition, he was given an £80,000 exit package, including a “terminal bonus” and redundancy pay. The authority also paid an extra £373,000 into his pension pot. This meant that in total, he was paid £965,000 in one year. He was entitled to the pay-off because Jeremy Hunt, the former culture secretary put him on a permanent contract when he appointed him. Mr Hone was later appointed the full-time chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, where his basic pay is £195,000 a year. On leaving the LLDC in 2014 he joined one of the Stadium’s prime construction contractors Mace as their Group Finance Director.

LLDC Deputy Chairman Philip Lewis is still a board member of the London Legacy Development Corporation for the past three years and a chartered surveyor with 40 years experience in the property market. He is currently Chief Executive of the property division of the Kirsh Group. He is a former Chairman of Sport England, London and past President of the British Council of Shopping Centres. Lewis was part of a three man sub committee convened by Baroness Ford in 2011 to review bids for the London Stadium occupancy.

Keith Edelman was formerly the Managing Director of Arsenal Holdings plc and was instrumental in the development of the Emirates Stadium and the attendant regeneration of the surrounding area including the development of Highbury Square. He is still an LLDC board member. Edelmen was part of a three man sub committee convened by Baroness Ford in 2011 to review bids for the London Stadium occupancy.

Baroness Margaret Ford was the former Chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company On 7 April 2009 Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell announced Ford’s appointment to chair the newly created London Legacy Development Corporation, known officially as the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC). In 2011 she formed a sub-committee to consider bids for the former Olympic Stadium. She was replaced in 2012 by Daniel Moylan.

Daniel Moylan was the Chairman of the LLDC for just three months in 2012 before he was replaced by Boris Johnson who had appointed him.
At the time of the appointment, Mayor Johnson said: “I am sure there is no better man than Daniel Moylan to ensure every possible ounce of benefit for Londoners is squeezed out of our Olympic legacy.”

At the time London Assembly Members had criticised the Mayor for ignoring the recommendation of a London Assembly confirmation hearing which said Mayor should not appoint Mr Moylan to the LLDC because he “did not consider that he had demonstrated sufficient knowledge and experience in the area of regeneration which was crucial to this role”.

Andrew Altman is the former CEO of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and London Legacy Development Corporation from 2009 until 2012 when the American stepped down unexpectedly. He was also a member of Baroness Ford’s sub committee which approved of West Ham’s initial bid for the Stadium in 2011.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2009) Eric Pickles

Secretary of State for the Department for Culture media and Sport (2009) Ben Bradshaw & Jeremy Hunt (2010-2012)

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) was established in May 2009 by the Mayor of London and Government as the company responsible for the long-term planning, development, management and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park .The OPLC was a public sector, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee with three founder members: the Mayor of London, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture media and Sport.

All the Secretary of States named above were involved in decisions relating to the former Olympic Stadium during the time the OPLC was in existence.

Former LLDC Chairman David Edmonds resigned in November last year shortly after a further over spend of £51m was revealed for the London Stadium transition. Edmonds, who has been an LLDC board member since its 2012 inception was appointed chairman in September 2015. He has been involved in the post-Olympic planning since 2009 when he became a director of the Olympic Legacy Committee. He will soon be replaced by Sir Peter Hendy who is also the Chairman of Network Rail since 2015.

Sir Robin Wales Current Mayor of Newham council was involved in both West Ham bids and a board member of the LLDC. Also, a self-confessed West Ham fan.

David Goldstone is the current CEO of the LLDC having joined from Transport for London in 2014 where he was Chief Finance Officer.
He was the Government’s finance director for London 2012 between 2007 and 2012, helping ensure that the Games were delivered within the £9.3 billion budget. In that capacity, he worked closely with the Olympic Delivery Authority on the design and delivery of the Olympic Park including the Stadium and on the planning for the future of the Park including the regeneration of east London. Goldstone is also a board member of Sport England.

Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy raised two Judicial review legal challenges in 2011 and 2013 to West Ham’s occupancy of the former Olympic Stadium. The first one was rejected by the high court and a second challenge was later withdrawn after agreeing to rebuild White Hart Lane with some help from the London Mayor. In December 2013: Three investigators found guilty of illegally obtaining Karren Brady’s phone records during the initial battle for the stadium. The lead investigator worked for accountants PKF, who were engaged by Spurs. The company and Spurs both denied any knowledge of illegal activities.

Leyton Orient Chairman Barry Hearn raised a Judicial review in 2013 over ground sharing at the former Olympic Stadium claiming he wanted Leyton Orient with West Ham and the LLDC hasn’t considered this. He also wrote to the Premier League asking them to ban West Ham’s move because of the distance from Leyton’s Orient’s stadium. His judicial review was rejected by the courts. He originally vowed to give up his legal fight if he lost the judicial review but instead said he would take his case to European Court of Justice. He later sold the club for £4m in 2014 and dropped his fight. This year he claimed he bitterly regretted the sale after Orient were served with a winding up order from HMRC.
The club was finally taken over by fan led consortium last month.

Architect Steve Lawrence is probably the least public figure involved in this sorry tale but possibly had the biggest impact when he challenged the LLDC by filing an anonymous complaint to the European Commission over illegal state aid. The public body cancelled West Ham’s winning bid as a result of this complaint and Boris Johnson ordered a new tender process in which the former Olympic Stadium would only be rented on a 99-year agreement.

When Lawrence’s anonymous complaint to the EU came to light at the High Court, the Olympic Park Legacy Company agreed to scrap the West Ham takeover of the stadium.

“If it had been shown subsequently to be illegal, and I am not saying that it was necessarily, then in those circumstances then West Ham would have had to repay the subsidy,” Lawrence told Sky Sports News at the time.

“If that had happened after they had moved out of Upton Park and that ground had been redeveloped then they would then have been in a position where they would have had to return the stadium to the authorities and they would have been homeless. So we would have lost one of our precious English football clubs.

“The EU would have required the UK authorities to recover the illegal state aid, which would have meant either West Ham would have had to pay the full price for it or a full rental for it – and we are talking about an asset worth £500?million – and they would not have been able to afford that. The only option would have been for West Ham to go somewhere else.”

Post note:

Going forward there is no simple solution, West Ham is unlikely to take over the London Stadium in the short term even if it was offered to them for free of charge, the government would need to pay the Hammers to take it off their hands. As they have forecast £200m of operating losses an up front fee of £100m might do the trick. Of course, there would be a political outcry and various complaints from jealous third parties to not make that feasible. In reality, the tax payer will need to fund the stadium for now and E20 Stadium LLP will need to honour their legal and proper contract with West Ham.

I understand that the Stadium is more likely to change hands into Newham Council ownership long term but only when the operating losses can be stemmed.

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