David Sullivan bio

David Sullivan took on the role of co-chairman at West Ham United approximately a year after parting ways with Birmingham City, a club he had been associated with for 16 years. Together with his long-time business partner, the late David Gold, Sullivan departed from Birmingham City in 2009. However, their hiatus from football was short-lived, as they assumed joint chairmanship of West Ham United less than a year later. This particular club held sentimental value for Gold, who had a deep connection from his upbringing, while Sullivan, a Welshman, had been a fervent supporter for many years.

Upon acquiring 27 percent ownership, Sullivan expressed that it took 22 years to fulfil his dream of gaining controlling interest in the club during the takeover. Two years later, following an increase in their shareholding to 60 percent, Sullivan and Gold announced their personal commitment to financially support player transfers.

David Sullivan-West Ham-Chairman

West Ham chairman David Sullivan

Controversy arose when David Sullivan and Gold opted to leave Upton Park, considered by many as the club’s spiritual home, and relocate to the former Olympic Stadium for the 2016-17 season. This decision faced significant backlash, marked by protests and pitch invasions, especially during a challenging period when the club fought against relegation. Surviving four major protests, the most significant occurred during a 3-0 victory by Burnley.

Sullivan encouraged outside investment

Originally from Cardiff, Sullivan has overseen West Ham United’s establishment in the Premier League since winning a playoff under Sam Allardyce in the 2011-12 season, spanning a 12-year period. Over the years, he appointed various managers, including Slaven Bilic, David Moyes, Manuel Pellegrini, and a second stint with Moyes.

Before accumulating wealth through successful property ventures and becoming one of the world’s wealthiest individuals with a fortune nearing two billion pounds. Sullivan entered the pornography industry in his early 20’s. After a brief 71-day prison stint, he successfully appealed the sentence, asserting that adults should decide what they want to read or not read.

Currently residing in Essex in a custom-built house, Sullivan holds the title of the club’s largest shareholder with 38 percent of the shares, with Karren Brady serving as deputy chair. The second-largest shareholder is Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, with a 27 percent ownership stake.

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David Sullivan: A Comprehensive Biography

Early Life and Business Ventures

David Sullivan was born on February 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales. His entrepreneurial spirit emerged early, as he began selling photographs to newspapers at the age of ten. Sullivan’s knack for business became apparent during his time at Queen Mary College, University of London, where he studied Economics. While still a student, he invested in soft-core pornography, which laid the foundation for his future ventures into publishing and the adult entertainment industry.

Publishing and Entertainment Career

Sullivan’s business acumen led him to become a major figure in the adult entertainment industry by the late 1970s and 1980s. He founded and operated several publications and retail chains specializing in adult content. His most notable ventures include the launch of the Sunday Sport and Daily Sport newspapers in the 1980s, which quickly became known for their sensationalist and sometimes controversial content.

Transition to Mainstream Business

Over time, Sullivan diversified his investments beyond the adult industry, venturing into real estate, retail, and media. His investments have spanned various sectors, demonstrating his versatility as a businessman. Sullivan’s ability to adapt to different industries and navigate their respective markets has been a hallmark of his career.

Involvement with West Ham United

In 2010, David Sullivan and David Gold acquired a controlling interest in West Ham United Football Club, marking a significant turning point in both Sullivan’s career and the club’s history. As co-chairman, Sullivan has been instrumental in West Ham’s financial management and strategic direction. His tenure has seen the club stabilize financially, move to the London Stadium, and become more competitive in the Premier League.

Impact on West Ham United

Under Sullivan’s ownership, West Ham has undergone significant transformations, including the controversial relocation from Upton Park to the London Stadium in 2016. While this move provided the club with a modern facility and greater revenue potential, it was met with mixed reactions from fans. Sullivan has also been involved in key managerial appointments and transfer dealings, shaping the team’s competitive prospects.

Philanthropy and Personal Life

David Sullivan is known for his philanthropic efforts, particularly in supporting healthcare and community initiatives. He has contributed to various charitable organizations and causes throughout his career.

Notable Achievements and Controversies

Throughout his career, Sullivan has both achieved notable successes and faced controversies. His ability to turn substantial profits from high-risk industries is balanced by criticism over his management style and decisions at West Ham United. However, his impact on the English football scene and his successful navigation of multiple business sectors remain undeniable.


David Sullivan’s journey from a self-made businessman in the adult industry to a prominent football club owner and diversified entrepreneur is a testament to his robust entrepreneurial spirit and strategic acumen. His tenure at West Ham United continues to evoke strong opinions, underscoring his significant role in the modern era of the club. As he moves forward, Sullivan’s legacy in both business and football will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion and analysis for years to come.