Wednesday, 15 February 2017

5 managers Boleyn Edition

This article was written for the excellent 5 managers fanzine published in December 2016

At last, something to look forward to at the OS, Depeche Mode play there in June, so in honour of the best thing out of Basildon, apart from the A13, 

Let me take you on a trip
Around my world and back
And you won't have to move
You just sit still
Now let your mind do the walking
And let my words do the talking

Let me show you the world in my eyes, 

January the 17th 2010, i went to a Hammers Heroes night in Dartford, Ken Brown snr was on the bill, Tony Gale was as usual the host, it was that day that David Gold and David Sullivan walked into the Lounge at The Boleyn and revealed they had secured 50% of the club, but crucially they had controlling interest. That night they also laid out plans to move the club into the Olympic stadium, which six and a half years later leads us to the situation we find ourselves in now. 

Civil War maybe over egging it but it seems the support is fracturing along lines that may never be able to be healed. 

Perhaps we should remember that six years ago the club was staring down the barrel of insolvency. In true hammers style, our previous owner, the second richest man in Iceland whose son was the richest, was bankrupt. Not only was he bankrupt but the bank that he owed his debts to and so was was technically now owning west ham, well they were virtually bankrupt as well. 
The Daves though instead of waiting for the inevitable of letting the club slide into administration and thus be cheaper to buy, made their move and won control of the club. No owner is perfect but here were two who on the face of it looked to be stained with claret and blue, even though they had spent 17 years at another club we all knew they were West Ham fans and so would know how special it was, would know the traditions of the club and protect them. How wrong could we have been. 

I will admit, on the 17th of January i was a happy that the club was back in the hands of people who were bona fide fans, little was i to know that those same two people would, in my opinion, destroy the club. The warning signs appeared early actually, the constant undermining of manager Zola who may not of been the greatest man to hold that post, but the way he kept his dignity despite the pressure put on him by Sullys comments in the press, the Save our season game against Wolves, that we lost, only to have another Save our season game V Wigan, thanks to Scott parker, we won that one. Season was saved but Zola wasn't so lucky. 
From day one the aim of the owners was to sell the Boleyn and rent the olympic stadium, from day one. They sat in the lounge at the Boleyn in front of the news cameras and outlined how they wanted to move the club out of the Boleyn and into the rented OS. It was as if it was already planned out before they bought the club they knew what they wanted to do.
How did they pull it off, well in business the best succeed by learning from their failures. What failures did our owners have, well not them directly but this was not the first time SuGo had tried to move a football club into a brand new stadium paid for by others while selling the stadium they owned. 

In 2008 while owners of Birmingham City, they wanted Birmingham City Council to go ahead and build a 50,0000 seater stadium txt could be used for Commonwealth Games Athletics and be part of our bid to host the 2018 World Cup. A multi use stadium no less, David Sullivan said this of the plan
 “This would put us on the map, as a city and as a club,”
“Look what the City of Manchester Stadium did.
“Birmingham needs to decide that it really wants a landmark stadium, that it wants to be the Second City.
“We’re currently waiting on the research and, from our perspective, a new ground is vitally important to secure our future. It could help take us to another level.”
Karen Brady at the Clubs AGM 

"It's the board's wish that the stadium is built without incurring massive debts on the football club.
"We are in the process of agreeing a memorandum of understanding with the City Council to develop the site.

That was their second attempt to get a new stadium out of someone else paying, earlier in 2005 they threw their weight behind a super casino bid in Birmingham that included a Muti-purpose football stadium. 
Guess what DS was saying back then 

"With a bigger stadium we could structure prices so it would be affordable for families, OAPs, students, and kids to come and watch us.

The stadium itself was described as 

It will be the only stadium in the country capable of hosting football, athletics, rugby, and cricket.

The 2005 bid failed as the super casino wasn't allowed by the Government, the 2008 re-hash failed as we never won the world cup bid for the 2018 games. They sold the club in 2009 less than a year after trying to get a new stadium for the club.
As we know in the January of 2010 they bought us and wasted no time in targeting the Olympic Stadium as West Hams new home, the blue prints for their plan had been honed at Birmingham but here they bare fruit.
Possibly the biggest Help was the conservative election win in 2010 followed by the Tories wing London. Why would that help, well the Daves and Karen were already known for their support of the tories party and donating into their coffers and they duly obliged. 

Six years later and now they have achieved what they set out over 11 years ago to achieve, to sell a football stadium steeped in history, and rent a multi purpose, jack of all, master of none, stadium. 
The fans are divided in their opinion,of the owners and the stadium. Much like when BFS was here, in fact bearing in mind SuGo are supposed to bona fide fans of the club when in their 6 ½ years at the club has their not been turmoil. I no longer fear for the future of the club, has it has no real future. In their push to embrace the Modern business models they have taken what was once proud and wiped it away. 

Ask yourself this, is the pursuit of trophies really worth what we have now and lastly, What if after 10 years at the OS, West Ham remain the same old West Ham. Up and down in the league, heroic failure in cup competitions, and relegated once every decade. So if as i believe nothing will change,