On 19 th January 2010, former Birmingham City owners, David Gold and David Sullivan bought a 50% share of West Ham. At the time, we looked to be heading towards administration and a dark few years in the wilderness like the Coventrys, Portsmouths and Leeds of the world. We were in a relegation battle under Gianfranco Zola, and still under the ownership of the Straumur Bank, West Ham were a mess.
Apart from stating the obvious about ‘the club being in a mess’ and trying to sort out the issues left by the previous Icelandic owners, Sullivan said that him and David Gold had a ‘seven year plan’ to get West Ham into the Champions League and also into the Olympic Stadium.
So we are coming up to their 3 year anniversary of ownership, where have we got to in this time? Initially, the new chairmen were quite vocal in the press, and the supporters hated it. They sacked Zola at the end of that season after their take over, and then quickly appointed Avram Grant. When the chairmen realised that they had made a mistake with that appointment, they undermined Grant and tried to get in Martin O’Neill. When that collapsed, they then had to back Grant, despite the whole world and his dog knowing that they didn’t want him. I didn’t like Avram Grant, but he did not deserve that sort of treatment from his employers.
After relegation, Grant was sacked, West Ham were a laughing stock, and there was more chance of the Pope turning up to Christmas dinner at my house than there was of getting us on track for our seven year plan. The Chairmen had to make some unpopular decisions. They had to reduce the staff at the club, they had to reduce the wage bill and they had to get our finances back on track.
They appointed Sam Allardyce with the sole intention of getting us back into the Premier League – they backed him in the transfer market, they kept their business out of the press, and they got on with running the club. Slowly but surely, things have started to happen, the debt of the club has reduced significantly, Allardyce got us back into the Premier League, and the Chairmen funded transfers from their own pocket. I think it’s fair to say that the Chairmen made some mistakes in the first instance, but gradually, they have learnt what to expect from us as supporters, but also what the supporters expect from them. They have now won the race to become first bidders on the Olympic Stadium, one of the promises they made when they first took over. We have started well in the Premier League, but we need Allardyce to establish us back as a Premier League side.
I’m not sure if we will make the Champions League in the next 4 years, only time will tell, but I’m happy to have Gold and Sullivan at the helm, happy to have British owners, and happy to have West Ham Supporters running our club. They have done a fantastic job after a shaky start, and hopefully, we can only get stronger.