West Ham co-owner David Gold has revealed he would let the club's England internationals leave if they are relegated.
That would mean losing Footballer of the Year Scott Parker, as well as goalkeeper Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole at the end of the season. The Hammers are bottom of the Barclays Premier League, three points from safety with only three games remaining.
Gold told BBC's Football Focus: "It's unfair to tell a player to forego your potential England career to come down and play in the Championship."
He added: "It impacts on his career. Would I try (to prevent it)? Of course, I would try but you would have a one in 10 chance."
The 74-year-old's admission may cause controversy, especially as it comes after co-owner David Sullivan opted not to attend the Hammers' 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday because of their miserable away form.
Gold, who has recently been in hospital after contracting cholangitis - an infection of the common bile duct - and septicaemia, was ready to take his share of responsibility if the club are relegated.
He said: "Do I blame myself? There is no doubt you end up blaming yourself.
"You go over the decisions you have made and yes, you have to take the blame. At the time you think you have done the best job.
"When the (January transfer) window closed I thought we had done enough."