The Sean Whetstone Column

The David Gold Interview

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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”

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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


The Sean Whetstone Column

A canned history of London Stadium's retractable seating

A plan to downsize the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games is “flawed” and “not in the interests of the East End”, a London Assembly committee said way back in 2010 before the London 2012 Olympics were .

The then committee chairman and West Ham fan Len Duvall said the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) should have carried out an “open and thorough analysis” of various options earlier. He said: “Put simply, an elite 25,000-seat athletics stadium is not, and was never going to be, in the long-term interests of the East End or of the taxpayer”

Fast forward to 2013 and The London Legacy Development Corporation started its search for a contractor to deliver £20m retractable seating system at the former Olympic Stadium. The tender was eventually awarded to a company Alto Seating who designed the seating with SAPA UK providing the Aluminium retractable decks and GallowGlass tasked with the moving of the seats. It was originally budgeted around £300,000 to move the seats.

A case study on The Welding Institute website" “Sapa was contracted to provide seating decks as part of the redevelopment of London’s Olympic Stadium, the centrepiece of the London Olympic Park and one of the venues for this year’s Rugby World Cup. Sapa Extrusions, based in Harderwijk in the Netherlands, had to deliver 3500 retractable decks for the stadium.The seating decks were to be made from extruded aluminium, incorporating joints made using friction stir welding (FSW).”

In 2015 Primary contractor Alto Seating went into voluntary administration weeks before the Rugby World cup owing GallowGlass £712,000 and leaving SAPA to carry on the project alone.

In 2016 LLDC CEO, David Goldstone gave evidence at the London Assembly Budget Monitoring sub-committee about the rising cost of the London Stadium and the impact of the failed retractable seating system.He confirmed an extra £21m was spent on the doomed seating system last year and estimated costs could reach as high £8m per year to move the seats backwards and forward unless a better solution can be found.

Speaking about the increase Goldstone explained: “A chunk of it was to do with the very unfortunate failure of the seating contractor who had been hired to install new seating system that happened just before the Rugby world cup last summer. We were left with a partially installed system so we had to step in and make it ready for that event. The (retractable seating) had been a joint venture, one partner did the main design and another installed the system, one partner went bust and the other partner inherited it but wasn’t a suitable long term contractor. They took it forward during 2016 but we had to settle out with them in 2016 because they weren’t a suitable long term”

On the question of annual running costs of the retractable seating costing up to £8m per year to run Goldstone admitted that was an estimate of moving between football mode and athletics each year. He said it was an estimated cost but it was not a confirmed amount and they were in a tendering process at the moment for a long term operator to move the seats and they just received the tenders in at the last few days. Goldstone confirmed “We are not pretending it’s not an issue but we know what the confirmed costs will be in the near future”

On 1st February 2017 Stadium owners E20 signed a five-year contract with PHD Modular Access Services Ltd of which Project 7 construction is part of their group.

Last month London Stadium seating contractors Project 7 construction published a video on youtube to show how the lower tier seats move from football mode to music concert mode. The video below shows seven rows of seats removed from the East stand before the West stand is pushed back section by section on air skates. The north and south lower stands are lifted and moved in modules by cranes. The north and south lower stands are lifted and moved in modules by crane with the video proudly claiming 500 unique crane lift movements are required for the operation. Possibly the most shocking fact of the whole video is the boast that it takes 32,000 man hours to achieve the full move.

Costs of the new contract have not been revealed despite a freedom of information request from myself but the quoted 32,000 hours at London Living Wage of £9.75 per hour would cost £312,000 per move so manpower would cost close to a million without the cost crane hire and associated costs factored in.

The new five-year seating contract can be viewed HERE

This week Project 8 was busy converting the London Stadium back to football mode following the completion of 2017 IAAF World Championships on Sunday.

Stadium owners E20 Stadium LLP are contractually obliged under the contract with West Ham to return the stadium to football mode by August 25th this year.

In a Freedom of Information response received this week, E20 Stadium says: “All four of the stadium’s stands are scheduled to be in their football positions by the 25 August. The stadium will be ready for West Ham’s first home match on 11 September 2017. Given that the stadium will be in football mode prior to West Ham’s first home match, no breach is anticipated.”

Long gone are the promises of ‘State of the art retractable seating’ which has since been rebranded as relocatable seating.


Financial

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 ClaretandHugh.info


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 TransferMarket.co.uk 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 www.claretandhugh.info but Iain asked me to republish on WHTID to stimulate debate on the subject.

Sean


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


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