My football club has been sold to pornographer David Sullivan and to Ann Summers‘ naughty lingerie-chain owner David Gold. Am I worried? Am I heck.
The two Davids are every bit as respectable as Roman Abramovich, Ken Bates or the Glazer family and any other football club owners you could care to mention.
Besides, to be frank, football’s not a squeaky-clean, stodgy, middle-class, anally retentive, joined-up-writing kind of a game. Maybe you’ve noticed? Indeed, the more the world goes in for the tick-box respectability of litigation-averse no-school-trip hi-viz safety-first outdoor-heating smoking dens, the more a large chunk of humanity seeks out the wild-side.
Football fans – from all backgrounds – secretly want a break from the goody-goody new world.
So, for example, England fans dreaming of World Cup glory don’t care what Wayne Rooney did with 45 quid and a 48-year-old grandmother of 16 in a Liverpool brothel.
West Ham fans are not especially impressed by the fact that both our Davids are local boys made good, or that there would hardly be a man or woman on the all-seating stands who hasn’t helped plump up the bank balances of the new owners. We don’t care that they are former East End barrow boys and life-long Hammers’ fans. No more than I was impressed when hapless local boy, and my former school dinner monitor, Glenn Roeder, was once made manager of our team.
We don’t care a monkey’s fart either that one of the Davids once played for our youth team.
No, we want their cash and their commitment to our club. That’s it and it’s a lot. As David Sullivan said today: “It makes no commercial sense to buy this club.” Not with its £110 million’s worth of debt.
Football is a high risk investment. Just like newspaper publishing it attracts adrenalin-driven buccaneers with big egos. They invest for the kudos, influence and sense of power that comes from owning something hundreds of thousands of others are crazy about and which pits their wits and skills against similar titans of their ilk.
Owning a football club is a bit like owning a red Ferrari, fur coat or a yacht. It says you’ve arrived and are enjoying life’s thrills and spills. Just when you’re having to live behind security grilles you can spend Saturday afternoons as a sort of Pleb’s Caesar hoovering up the roar of the crowd and sort of loved by it.
The problem with our last owner was that he was an Icelandic billionaire with a penchant for spending other people’s money in his day job as a banker and at West Ham United. The bad news today is that CB Holding, whose main shareholder is troubled Icelandic bank Straumur, still owns 50% of the club, but the good news is that they’ve relinquished control to the two Davids.
So it’s good riddance to bankrupt stupidity and hello to new ambition from the two nutters bred in London’s East End smog. (Ah, the good-old, bad-old days of real pollution you could stub a toe on.)
Taking what strikes me as a sensible approach, they plan to attract more rich investors – and fans – to share their financial risk. Setting out their stall, here’s what David Sullivan said today on WHUFC.com:
“Our first priority has to be securing the Premier League status of West Ham. I believe the players at this club have shown great commitment in trying circumstances and the new board and I will get behind them in every way we can.
“We will also look to bring in new players to supplement the squad where needed once we have met with the manager.”
And here’s what he told the BBC:
“We have short-term and long-term goals. In the short term, we want to stay in the Premier League and in the long term we would like to be challenging for the top four and the Champions League.”
Come On You Irons!