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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Pride. It's the one thing that no man can take from you. Icelandic bank Straumar, who control CB Holdings, who in turn control West Ham, are a proud group of men. They're not going to be messed around by two cockney chancers like David Gold and David Sullivan. The word on the street is that they're going to turn down the former Birmingham owners' GBP50m takeover bid for the club because it's not enough. Frankly, given the state that West Ham are in, it's probably too much, but that's ok. Straumar have got their pride. And they'll need that in the Championship.

Very little attention has been paid to the plight of West Ham, mainly because the club have gone to so much trouble to avoid it. They've even used legal loopholes to avoid publishing their accounts, presumably in case the press figure out how deep they are in the doo-doo. Despite debts estimated at GBP70m, a mixed squad of journeymen and children, the unpaid severance fee due to Alan Curbishley, the unresolved compensation issue with Sheffield United, the certainty of a relegation battle and a global financial crisis, Straumar believe that the club is worth GBP120m. If you look up 'optimism' in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of their corporate logo.

Straumar were expecting nice clean negotiations, but Sullivan and Gold made their money in pornography and they prefer to fight dirty. They've been leaking information to the press to force the debate and deny the Icelandic consortium. They know that Straumar have an upcoming district court case which will determine whether or not they have an extension to pay their creditors. They know that if Straumar lose, they will have to take whatever's on the table. And yet why is this such a bad thing?

The previous administration at Upton Park ran the club into the ground. On many levels, it's absolutely amazing that there is still a football team there for Sullivan and Gold to think about buying. Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Eggert Magnusson were a disaster. They broke the rules with the Carlos Tevez signing and should have been relegated. They survived and went on to finish 10th, but constructively dismissed Alan Curbishley. They hired an Italian director of football whose most notable achievement was paying a fortune for the hopelessly unsuitable Savio Nsereko from his father-in-law's club Brescia. They spent a fortune on broken-down players like Kieron Dyer and Freddy Ljungberg, the latter being so bad that the club spent GBP5m terminating his contract. By the time that the club was falling down around their ears, there was little that Straumar could short of selling off the silver. Out went Savio, for a much reduced fee, along with the excellent James Collins, the creative Matthew Etherington and numerous others.

Straumar should take the money and run. Whatever else you can say about Sullivan and Gold, they know what they're doing in this industry. When they arrived at Birmingham, the stadium was a shambles and the club was in the doldrums. Their legacy was an all-seater arena and Premier League status to go with their Premier League facilities. They can pull West Ham out of this mess, but the longer they are forced to wait, the less their chance of success. Pride is all well and good, but if Straumar think they're having problems getting a decent price for the club now, they should give Mike Ashley a call and find out out what it's like in the Championship.
Think there are other parties waiting in the wings offering more though to be fair not too difficult as Gold and Sullivan want it for absolutely nothing as in zero. Also you would have to take into account would the present owners be acting in the best interest of the creditors if they did accept the jizz boys offer?