David Sullivan is in the middle of pulling a fast one at West Ham United, and it’s fascinating to watch.
He’s had the following to say about wages at the club:
“We are going to ask everyone at the club to voluntarily take a wage reduction.
I can’t believe the contracts I’ve inherited. The club is in a mess and we all have to pull together. If we go down, I can’t even consider the situation.
It’ll be Armageddon if we go down. It’ll be worse than what’s gone on at Newcastle.”
Making a public comment about asking everyone to take a wage reduction is brilliantly played – it puts moral pressure on the players and staff members to ‘help’ the club even though in all fairness to the situation it’s not their fault the club is in such a mess.
But if he had stuck to just saying this, it would have been easy to defend it by saying that this would be a worst case scenario to be enacted only if the club went down or if they didn’t find sufficient investment by the end of the season.
He wasn’t done yet:
“Gianfranco is highly paid and I think all managers in the Premier League are overpaid.”
Of course they are highly paid. Not as highly paid as many of the footballers though. But never mind that. He’s on dangerous ground criticising the manager, but he’s done it well on the money angle, hoping that with football fans in general talking about there being ‘too much money in football’, he can get away with this.
He goes on, and this is where I feel he’s flat out lying with the bit about people coming up to him and offering to take wage cuts:
“Everywhere you look there is excess. Everyone is overpaid for the job they do. There are 110 mobile phones being paid for by the club and you have minor people with Blackberry phones and other types.
Already members of the administrative staff have come to us and said, ‘look we know we are overpaid for the job we do but we are good people and we’d like to stay and we are prepared to take a voluntary wage cut’.”
David Gold was keen to emphasize that is was just to draw attention to the problem, to send a message and not something they would actually do. Fair enough, but this is more of the same from Sullivan since they’ve taken over day-to-day running of the club.
Yes, West Ham has financial troubles, and yes, cost-cutting is needed. But it’s not something that you use to criticise in the press the one man who can keep you up in the Premier League, and it’s certainly not something you use to distract the players when they need to be focused on winning games and not about another Portsmouth style situation.
If David Sullivan made as much effort to save the club from their financial troubles as he is making to cover his backside by complaining about them, we would all be very happy for West Ham right now.