Unpopular West Ham United owners David Sullivan and David Gold continue to burn bridges with disgruntled supporters.
When fans were told by West Ham insiders Claret & Hugh that there is no money to spend this summer it did not go down well.
But there was a sense of inevitability about the announcement.
Claret & Hugh – who have direct links to owners Sullivan and Gold – reported that David Moyes had been told he has a zero budget.
It came just weeks after the Scot had narrowly secured Premier League survival with a team that had conceded 60+ goals for the third time in the last four seasons.
West Ham fans had started to buy into Moyes’s Red Bull vision
Just weeks after the same man had once again outlined his plans to make West Ham a Red Bull lite by rebuilding the club around young, hungry players predominantly from the Championship.
Just weeks after being honest with supporters that West Ham probably won’t be an overnight success story as a result.
Asking West Ham fans starved of success for 40 years not to get their hopes up is laced with irony.
Particularly after they left their beloved Upton Park home of 112 years for the soulless London Stadium on pledges made by the owners that it would help them reach the fabled next level.
Despite all that, West Ham’s loyal fans started to buy into Moyes’s interesting, realistic if somewhat unambitious plan.
But lo and behold even that modest aim looks well beyond West Ham’s reach as Sullivan and Gold plead poverty due to the global health crisis.
Of course the pandemic has hit the club’s finances.
It has affected all football clubs.
But for the owners to try and claim it has somehow uniquely affected West Ham is patronising in the extreme.
Pleading poverty is patronising to long-suffering fans, West Ham are not uniquely affected
There was some hope that this was a clever smokescreen from the club to get players on the cheap this summer.
That looks increasingly optimistic, though.
The pandemic brought fan protests against the owners to a halt this year.
But the sentiment among a large section of fans has remained.
As West Ham blame the health crisis for the lack of a transfer kitty, no fewer than 14 of their rival clubs have been or are currently active in the transfer market.
Arsenal signing Willian from Chelsea. Spurs landing Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for £15m. And Sheffield United paying £18.5million for Aaron Ramsdale of Bournemouth (Sky Sports) are just a snapshot of examples so far.
West Ham may yet do deals this window. After all they have until October 5th.
Of course the club will argue making Tomas Soucek’s loan permanent is among the best business they have done for a long time. It probably is in fairness. But that was a signing made in January out of necessity to stay in the Premier League. A signing that should have been made last summer with proper planning and a coherent strategy.
Instead West Ham just hoped Declan Rice would stay fit all season so they didn’t have to call on Carlos Sanchez.
But with talk of having to loan Shane Duffy – a competent Premier League defender – from last season’s relegation rivals Brighton that does not look likely.
What some see as an opportunity, Sullivan and Gold see as the perfect excuse
The situation is not filling supporters with optimism or confidence that there will be any significant transfers or investment.
The sorry financial state of a club with the second most season ticket holders in the country is cause for concern.
West Ham fans have seen enough. If the zero budget line is true then Sullivan and Gold clearly do not have the financial wherewithal to run a Premier League football club.
And West Ham’s loyal supporters deserve so much better.
The sad thing is the owners could have used the current climate to turn the ship around.
With the protests silenced for now, the owners could have seen the health crisis as an opportunity to rebuild the squad in line with Moyes’s vision by getting players below their previous market value.
Instead they have all too inevitably used it as the perfect excuse not to invest.
The worst thing is they haven’t even got the decency to address the fanbase directly and explain the situation.
Either they no longer care what supporters think or hold them in complete contempt.
It is a sorry state of affairs.
And the gaping wound that is the relationship between supporters and owners shows no signs of healing anytime soon.
For West Ham to thrive the club needs consistent investment.
Without it the Hammers will only ever tread water at best.
And at worst… well we all know the next bit.