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Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sullivan reveals scale of West Ham's financial problems


News conference - Sullivan and Gold

West Ham's new owner David Sullivan has revealed the club is £110m in debt as it battles for Premier League survival.

Former Birmingham owners Sullivan and David Gold now control the Hammers after buying a 50% shareholding.

"It makes no commercial sense to buy this club," said Sullivan after laying out the scale of West Ham's borrowing.

"If there was any other club in this situation, then we would not be buying it. We bought this as supporters, not from a business point of view."

CB Holdings, who retain the other 50% shareholding, had said the club had debts of £38m, but Sullivan claimed the figure was nearer £110m.

"In simplistic terms, £50m is owed to banks and £40m to other clubs... West Ham are not owed a single penny by other clubs because when they've sold players, they've discounted the debt with the banks," he said.

"We're going to have to do some wheeling and dealing which we're very good at," he added. "We'll have to find new money."

Sullivan said that debts included the settlement for former boss Alan Curbishley and to Sheffield United, who are owed about £20m as a result of the Carlos Tevez saga.

CB Holdings, whose majority shareholder is the troubled Icelandic bank Straumur, had borrowed money by using future season ticket sales as capital, Sullivan, 59, also stated.

Sullivan's deal sees him taking strategic and operational control of the club, which is 16th in the Premier League, while he and Gold have a four-year option on the remaining shares.

In Zola We Trust

Nevertheless, he is instead hopeful of attracting a consortium of wealthy investors to help fulfil the target of getting the Hammers into the Champions League within seven years.

"Our preferred option is that we find other people who want five or 10% and we will go to [AirAsia and Lotus F1 tycoon] Tony Fernandes, who was one of the others interested in buying the club."

Former West Ham youth team player Gold, 73, said that the pair had managed to avert the immediate danger of having to sell players to pay off debts.

He said West Ham needed to secure £8m in the current January window and another £12m by the summer.

"The first thing we needed to do was not to bring in new players, the first thing was to make sure no players left," said Gold.

Gold focused on keeping Hammers up

"Up until a month ago you constantly read and saw on TV that the current owners would have to sell their best players to stay in business."

"We can reassure fans who were terrified that they were going to lose two or three of the best players that that is now not going to happen."

The pair also added that they had been in talks with Newham Council about moving to the Olympic Stadium once the 2012 London Games had finished.

"It is a priority for West Ham that we move to the Olympic Stadium, three miles from where we are now," Sullivan said.

"If we have a huge ground, we can take football back to the people, reduce admission prices and become the cheapest Premier League ground in the country."

Sullivan and Gold secured the takeover despite interest from Lotus F1 chief Tony Fernandes, finance firm Intermarket and Italian Massimo Cellino.

Brooking 'relieved' at takeover

And Cellino, the president of modest Italian Serie A club Cagliari, has hit out at Icelandic bank Straumur as he thought he - and not Sullivan and Gold - was close to a deal.

"I am astonished more than disappointed. In many years in football I've never seen anything like this," he told Italian news agency ANSA.

"Everything was ready, I was poised to buy 100% of the club and, instead, this morning when I arrived in London I discovered they'd decided to sell to people they've been talking to for eight months, who have taken only 50%.

"I would have paid all the debts and I was ready to make some big buys. I think England didn't want me."

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see also
Gold & Sullivan take over Hammers
19 Jan 10 |  West Ham
West Ham want Olympic venue move
19 Jan 10 |  London
Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham
17 Jan 10 |  Premier League
Zola keen for takeover resolution
15 Jan 10 |  West Ham
West Ham hit by 115,000 FA fine
15 Jan 10 |  League Cup
Death hits West Ham takeover bid
12 Jan 10 |  West Ham
Top-flight finances stun Sullivan
11 Jan 10 |  Premier League
London firm to bid for West Ham
30 Dec 09 |  Business
West Ham debt repayments frozen
16 Dec 09 |  West Ham
Gold & Sullivan move for West Ham
09 Dec 09 |  West Ham

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