Nigel Kahn’s Column

Due to no article being scheduled for today, I’ve moved Nigel’s piece back to the top of the pile so that comments can return to all things West Ham United. Thanks for the respect shown to the Martin Peters obituary; if anyone would still like to post a tribute, the piece can still be found below Nigel’s article – Dan.

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there
He said I was his friend
Which came as a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago

men who sold the world

Ten years ago, West Ham were in a desperate situation, owned by a bankrupt club taken as a bad debt from the biggest bankrupt ever in Iceland. A sale was needed quickly and there were various people or groups in the frame. Two interested me, the first was Tony Fernandes, then owner of Lotus F1 motor racing team and also the airline, Air Asia.
The second was David Gold with his mate David Sullivan.

If I had been asked who my ideal owners would have been I would have answered David Gold along with his brother Ralph who was also involved with Birmingham City.
The Gold brothers were what I would call “proper West Ham”. Brought up on Green Street, the pair both loved the club, David even gave interviews while owner or Brum about his love of West Ham which I remember reading and wondering why he was wasting his time with them. He should come back and try to own us again. He had at first managed to buy shares and try to take control of the club in the early 90s, around the time Jack Petchey, another local businessman sold his share to then buy Watford off Elton John.
Why was he wasting his time with Birmingham, they didn’t like him there anyway.

Oh no, not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the men who sold our world

On January the 19th 2010 they walked back into the Boleyn Ground as owners of the club, winning their battle with Fernandes in convincing Straumer they were the better option. A great day I thought, West Ham people back in control of West Ham.

Their first press conference was interesting, to say the least, amid the usual new ownership of every football club bought, they had their promises of taking them into the Champions League within a certain time frame. Seven years they proclaimed, but frankly, I didn’t believe it, I was just glad to have DG as owner.

The move at that moment didn’t phase me, as I assumed the time to go there had passed, the stadium was set to be made into a 25,000 Athletics stadium after the Olympics, the stadium build was underway and it was too late with the conversion for football to be built into it. DS at the press conference while talking about leaving Upton Park even said the track was a problem as running tracks and football don’t mix, the crowds are just too far away.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Why am I re-running this again?

Well, David Gold has just had an interview published in Blowing Bubbles magazine – not for the first time he chose that publication either.

I laughed and shook his hand
And made my way back home
I searched for form and land
For years and years I roamed
I gazed a gazeless stare
We walked a million hills
I must have died alone
A long, long time ago

In that article, it seems DG is now willing to accept that the way the club handled the move was not without problems and maybe regret. He starts though with claiming that after leaving Brum in 2009 they all wanted a year off, but then said they looked at Charlton, Brighton Palace and Southampton in their quest for a new challenge. All were basket cases yet It was their love for West Ham that brought them to buying us when in his words, we were the biggest basket case out the lot.

Why buy us then? Was it love, or the fact the plan they failed to execute twice at BCFC in moving them to a multi-use stadium had failed, and the club who just happened to be having a multi-use stadium built nearest to them out of that list, was West Ham. When asked about the best thing of his 10-year tenure, with pride he says “the move to the Olympic Stadium.”

He then follows up with: “Despite the anger from some fans, I will never alter my stance on this. I knew back in 2010 that this football club had more chance of competing with our rivals, particularly our rivals in London – Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs – by moving to the Olympic Stadium. We were miles behind them in terms of stadia but now I think we’ve shown glimpses of having a platform to springboard to seriously challenge our London rivals, thanks to our fantastic fanbase.”

Funnily enough, were not a million miles behind Chelsea or Arsenal at the moment, but that is due to the failure of those clubs, not the success of ours. I digress though as my main reason for this article was what followed.

“‘Is the stadium perfect? No, it’s not. Why? Because the people building the Olympic Stadium had a firm belief that football would never be played there and that it must always remain an athletics stadium. From where we sit, there’s like 20 yards that the stadium could have been brought forward had the hop, skip and jump been placed on the other side. How many people really watch hop, skip and jump? Seriously? This left us with a legacy of that gap from the first row of seats to the pitch on that side.”

DG must have a memory problem as when in 2010 they arrived and wanted to move, they were happy with a 40 yard gap. There was no moveable seating in their original plan, they were telling us how great the sightlines were without the seats moving. What the above comment to me highlights the fact that they will say anything at any time to try to hide and justify why they sold our world.

Who knows?
Not me
I never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

The best is yet to come through, For me DG surpasses himself. The question was “what would Gold have done differently in the past decade? His answer: ‘I wish I’d kept my mouth shut more. I regret saying that the seats would be “this” close to the pitch and then that didn’t happen.”

It didn’t happen because of the roof. We’ve got the largest free-supporting roof structure in Europe but to get it over another 30 rows of seats would have cost untold millions and they just couldn’t do it.

“We understood this and we had to adjust our expectations accordingly and that meant we were going to be further away from the pitch on the west side. But we will be able to bring the seats in at the goal ends, that’s going to happen and remember we are still only in our fourth season at our new home.”

Garbage is what I think of that.

They knew all this before agreeing to the move. The gap is not just on the West side, it’s on all sides. Drawings were showing the roof didn’t cover the running track, yet they claimed they were putting seats on the track.

We all know the misinformation used by the club, so I won’t keep listing them but the problem here is DG fails to heed his own admission of a mistake in keeping his mouth shut.
His answers are full of holes that can easily be disproved and yet in what I can only think is an attempt to try appeal to fans that all is not wrong he gives an interview that frankly lacks any scrutiny from the interviewer. Hence why earlier I pointed out it wasn’t the first time he used that publication.

If DG wants to keep talking publicly then frankly it is about time he sat down and faced real scrutiny, in a researched interview that could point out the (I’ll choose my word carefully here) errors in what he says.

His problem is he as said so much in the past it is easy to prove the falsehoods and inconsistencies.

Who knows?
Not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

Eight years ago I came face to face with DG. I couldn’t help myself. I gave him a dig about his constant brag about his poverty upbringing, pointing out nearly everyone in the area had that upbringing, but only he wore it as a badge of honour. What followed was a 15-minute spat between me and him where i pointed out he didn’t save us, he was no saviour and that is going through with the move he was gambling with the future of the club. He held his own and gave stick back to me.
Eight years on, I just hope that perhaps I get to come face to face with the man who sold my world one more time.