David Sullivan admits West Ham buy-out 'makes no commercial sense'
After the pair sold their interest in Birmingham City last year, Sullivan has now taken a 50 per cent stake in West Ham, with Icelandic bank Straumur holding the remaining half. The first imperative is to guarantee survival in the Premier League and prevent the club's best players being sold, something Sullivan claims his initial injection of capital will achieve. The club are, according to Sullivan, in debt to the tune of more than £100m and he will seek further investment to manage that figure and take the club forward. Sullivan has an option to buy the remaining 50 per cent of the club at a set price at any point over the next four years. ''We wouldn't buy this club at all if this wasn't West Ham," he said. "It makes no commercial sense for anyone to buy this club and it's amazing that two other people wanted to buy it. ''One is another West Ham supporter (Tony Fernandes) and the Italian (Massimo Cellino), I'm not quite sure if he looked at the books properly, but if he looked at the books he might have walked away. ''We've paid down some of the debt and injected some working capital but there's still more than £100 million of debt. ''In that there's £50m owed to banks, there's £40m owed to other clubs. There's not a penny to come in, they (the previous owners) have borrowed against the next two years of season-ticket money. The sponsors have paid 70 per cent of their three-years up front. ''In addition there's the club's settlement to (former manager) Alan Curbishley, so the real debt is about £110m.'' The new ownership team revealed their involvement has averted the need to raise £20m in the next two transfer windows to keep the club afloat £8m in January and £12m in the summer. Gold said: 'The first thing we needed to do was not to bring in new players, the first thing was to make sure no players left. 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.' Sullivan believes the club's future would be brighter if they could move to the Olympics stadium in east London after the Games in 2012, but admitted they would have to reach some kind of compromise over the running track. 'I don't think running tracks work, particularly behind the goal,' said Sullivan. 'The customers are so far back it doesn't work. 'We don't want to buy (the Olympic Stadium), we want to rent it. The Government promised to keep it alive for 30 years, it's going to cost them more to keep it alive. With us it's going to cost them nothing we would pay all the running costs.' Sullivan takes over a club in a perilous state but he reamins confident that with the help of other investors the club he has supported since his childhood can prosper again. 'We own 50 per cent of the club but I have an option on the other 50. I would share that with David but I would like to have four or five West Ham supporters with lots of money to come in," he said. 'The debts here are so large that most Englishmen can't carry them so we would like to share them with others and help take West Ham to the next level. 'The bank Straumur own the other 50 per cent right now and my option to buy is for anytime in the next four years. 'Our preferred option is that we find other people who want five or 10 per cent and we will go to Tony Fernandes, who was one of the others interested in buying the club. 'If you imagine a government of national unity in national crisis this is the board equivalent and we want people to come in and help dig the club out of that. 'Every stone you turn is a negative to the cash flow of the club and viability of the club. 'They (the previous owners) have done a fantastic job of keeping the club alive but the cost is we are taking over an incredibly bad situation. However, we will sort it out because we are good at it.'
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