Explaining the £100m of West Ham debt


goldsullivanpngWest Ham co-owner David Sullivan’s comments that the club is still £100m  have caused some confusion with Hammers supporters.

He told Jim White on Talksport “It’s a difficult one because we’re not a bottomless pit. We still have to balance the books and we still have £100million of debt.”

Many still believed the board promised that the club would be debt free when they sold the Boleyn Ground

In fact those original comments were talking about external bank debt although I accept that was not
precisely highlighted at the time.  Gold later clarified on social media last year by saying “We never said we would be free of debt, we said we would be free of BANK debt which we now are. dg”

In simple terms, you can’t clear a £100m debt unless you make £100m of profit so they have merely moved much of the external bank debt to shareholder loans which will now mature in January 2020.

Many disgruntled fans will always believe it is all smoke and mirrors but below I will try to explain five straight forward key numbers from West Ham financial accounts for the six years following the Gold and Sullivan takeover.

The key numbers are turnover (the amount West Ham earned in the year) Operating profit or loss for the year before player trading and interest and the general profit/loss after player trading and interest payments are taken into account.

The figures below show the club earned £665m in six years after the takeover and made a net operating profit of £97m but it spent a further £124m net on transfers and another £31m in interest payments creating an overall loss of a further £59.5m over those six years.

In 2010 West Ham had £110m of debts made up of £50m owed to banks £40m owed to other clubs and £20m owed to Sheffield United.  In 2016 the ‘£100m of debts’ is made of £61.4m owed to two Davids from shareholder loans and £35.5m to other clubs for transfers so just under £97m.

Financial year ending Turnover Operating profit/loss Net Player trading Interest paid Overall/Profit/Loss
2010  £71.7m -£2.9m -£13.9m -£3.7m -£20.6m
2011 £80.5m £6.7m -£22.6m -£2.6m -£18.5m
2012 £46.1m -£11.7m -£8.8m -£3.2m -£25,4m
2013 £89.8m £14.8m -£13.6m -£4.7m -£3.5m
2014 £114.8m £31.8m -£16.5m -£5.1m £10.34m
2015 £120.7m £26.9m -£18.4m -£5.6m £2.9m
2016 £142m £31.4m -£30.2m -£6.1m -£4.8m
Totals £665.6m £97m  net profit -£124m -£31m -£59.5m

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I am Season Ticket Holder in West stand lower at the London Stadium and before that, I used to stand in the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower Row R seat 159 in the Boleyn Ground and in the Eighties I stood on the terraces of the old South Bank. I am a presenter on the West Ham Podcast called A Blogger on a member of the West Ham Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), Founder of a Youtube channel called Mr West Ham Football at,

I am also the associate editor here at Claret and Hugh.

Life Long singer of bubbles! Come on you Irons!

Follow me at @Westhamfootball on twitter


  • Radai Lama says:

    I will leave this one to the Einsteins.Just give me a pitch ball & 22 players & im happy as a pig in shyt.Even at the LS,what a sinner i am 😂😂

  • John says:

    Einstein here! I like these sort of threads. I was surprised to see the net spend each year over the past 5 years not least because I had each one about 20% higher. Which proves really we shouldn’t worry ourselves about it because we don’t really know what the transfer sums are, what year or years it goes into and what if any sign on fees there are. Same goes for players out.

    So whether we spend £10M or £60M I shan’t fret provided I can see better quality coming in which is the case thus far.

  • Stow-hammer says:

    Yes. Not a surprise that the proceeds of the sale of Upton Park (17mn?) were not enough to clear debts of 100mn.
    And why should we as fans want the debt reduced? The only way to do that is by reducing spending the on player wages or transfer fees.
    The David’s could just give the club the money and write off the debt but as they own the club they would just be giving themselves money. If it makes financial sense for them to do it this way then that’s fine with me. I suspect that they know quite a lot more about how to manage their financial affairs than I do.

    • John says:

      That’s an immensely sensible post Stow. Please don’t post on the blogs again. We can’t be having sensibility.

  • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

    Does that include the TV money ? Which comes to how much in total over the last 2 years ish? Or is that the petty cash 😎 it doesn’t mention that does it or am I just a wannabe Einstein x= matchstick carol = 22games out over 7 played = pie and mash 😜

    • Radai Lama says:

      Stick to the beer with me Laz.Far easy than the club financials.
      Its in Johns capable hands,what can go wrong 😁😁

      • doc66 says:

        The figures show only up to the financial year ending 2016. The TV revenue money won’t show up in the figures until the financial year ending 2018 as they were only paid out at the end of last season (May 2017). That will or should then show a big drop in money owed to the Davids.

        • You are correct that accounts up to May 2017 will be published around Jan 2018 which will show the new TV money. However the two Davids have referred their debt until 2020 so it wont reduce more

  • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

    😂😂😂 ask a silly question rads and Goldman Sachs get involved 😂😂 I was going to ask about the loans from the virgin isles directors front 😯 but you’re right mate let john deal with it. 😂😂

    • John says:

      oh no! Sean has overlooked the £100M’s of TV money every season. He must feel such a fool now. Of course it includes TV money!!! No wonder he doesn’t trust us with articles longer than 100 words long preferring instead to post these where the posters are more articulated. 😜😜

      • Radai Lama says:

        Well the articulate ones on the oasis of sensible debate say we are all illiterate on here so it would be remiss of us not to play the game & live up to their low expections 😁
        Maybe i am illiterate but better than than be so far up my own ass im inside out 😂😂

        • John says:

          I’m just about to join you and Laz on the beer when my carriage arrives. My IQ which peaks at 12 on a good day goes to mush after 4 Stellars. On the plus side I sleep well 😂😂🍺

          • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

            I’m interstellers to john 😂😂 Rubicon ales are out of this world 😵😵😜

        • Radai Lama says:

          See i am illiterate or rather my fat paws are.Expectations works better 😁
          Had my beers after work so i am refuelled already 🍺💤💤

  • The Demon says:

    Great post. I love this kind of thing, rather than the flashy big numbers, no explanation approach of other sites and most of the media. Keep it up!

  • John says:

    Just to keep this on topic, is the 2016 spend of £30M the Ayew/Zaza/etc spend? I honestly that year we netted £48M or something like that. Oh well live and learn.

    • Financial years run to May to May so the summer transfers are often in the following year’s accounts. In 2016 we spent £34m but got £4m back in sales.
      In reality, this net figure of £30m is an amortisation where they spread the cost of acquiring an asset over the period of the contract.

    • See John a whole article without the word REHAB 😉

      • John says:

        Mondays Court Order clearly states you must not taunt me. You’ll be back in Court if you’re not careful.

        • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

          You need to change that legal team first john they clearly cocked up on the t v dosh 📥📤📊📉 😯😂

  • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

    Pie and mash man me john , it would help if I could read but I’m not good a maths 😂 I’ll leave the prawn sarnies and popcorn to you’re legal dept,
    Where’s cod face , any idea john 🎣 😉 you two could sort this club right out mate 😂😂 and not forgetting Kevin as director of the porcelain dolls appreciation investment fund 📥📤📈 😂😂 👅

  • gs13 says:

    Again, this is so misleading when talking about the clubs finances.
    Every club takes on debts, and the figures about do not account for so many other streams of income. Image rights and naming fees are an enourmous earner for many clubs, but we get drip fed the basics and expected to be idiots.

    It’s clear that the chairman and board members take massive profits from the club.

    Why not post something more insightful like how much the young Sullivan’s are paid by the club in whatever bull **** role has been built for them.

    • All income streams are included in the turnover figure, the chairman loans and their interest is clear in black and white. They loaned £49.2m and they have earned interest of £13m so far.

      As for Jack Sullivan, it is an unpaid role.

  • gs13 says:

    And where is the consistency on this site? Only a month or so ago you were reporting that our inside sources have stated there is a transfer budget of around 50-60 million.

    • They could have a transfer budget of that size but that doesn’t mean they have to spend it. In 2016 the operating profit was £31m, I expect that to be a lot higher for 2017 which includes last season.

  • 59hammer says:

    Costs rose £37m in the last 5 years and without seeing a breakdown of that expenditure it’s pretty difficult to make sense of the net p&L.

    What also worries me is anything we’re to happen to the 2 Davids. God forbid, they’ve not that young so let’s hope there is a succession plan in place.

    Good on them for putting the money in but without the full details (above) we can’t see what they pay themselves and family members for their roles at the club nor the interest paid to them for the share holder loans.

    Also, Is that right that we only netted £17m for Upton Park? I thought the sale of the ground was to pay off the debt. Obviously not…

    A couple of years back I got totally ****** with Coventry supporter I met on a plane. He scared me half to death by saying whatever you do at West Ham you should sell the ground 🙈

    • Upton Park was sold for £38m in accounts yet to released. £15m went straight to the London Stadium owners, £15m went to banks to pay off loans mortgaged against the Boleyn Ground (those banks included Sullivan who acted as a bank for a percentage of the loan) and the remaining £8m went on the fit out of the shop, seats and Westhamification of the new stadium. The latest accounts have a post note mentioning £8m profit and that was the remaining after the London Stadium and banks were paid out but it is quickly used on the stadium.

  • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

    I reckon labi sifri could write a song about this !! Answers on a postage stamp and sent to sully as legal tender to help balance the books 😉

    • John says:

      I had to google Labi Sifri lol. Laz you are so off the wall man 😂😂

      • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

        Curiosity killed the cat , you avoided the antifreeze then 😹😹 I’ve never been a luvvy of the Dave’s , but they support the club as fans but also have a business agenda that comes first , I take their comments with a pinch of salt nowadays, cos at the end of the day the supporters will have the final say if they cock up , I just want the season to start now 🎤🎶🎶🎶🎶🎣🎣🎣 👅

  • AJ says:

    Well this has brought the Subbuteo accountants out in force.

  • essexirons says:

    tbh I’m not at all interested in the money side of things, It is what is happening out on the pitch I care about. Some thing I don’t understand though, is why do some people seem to think they should know how much the D’s pay themselves?

  • Stow-hammer says:

    Essex I don’t know on that but the club (that they own) probably pays interest on the loans they made to the club. Probably through another one of their companies. And they will set the the interest rate at the level they want to realise the profits in a way to minimise tax liability. There is also the small matter of what the club is worth now vs what they paid for it.
    But I quite like the club being managed by competent business people. After all things were a bit dodgy for us with the Icelandics. And there are lots of examples of mega clubs who have had big problems because their owners were less competent.

  • John says:

    Essex it’s because the Dooms and the Glooms are running out of things to moan about. As you say it’s their club and they can do what they like but the reality is they still do things to try to please appease the fans. Gold and Sullivan do justify being paid but they don’t because some fans will moan, Young Jack should be on the payroll but he’s not because some fans will moan. Brady does the same job as Levy but is paid half what Levy is paid. Yep because some fans will moan. “Some” is of course the minority but it’s the noisy minority.

    Agree again with you Stow. I’ve said before they MUST charge interest. I don’t know the exact figures but if Sullivan had loaned tow thirds and Gold one third of the debt then when payback occurs that must be recognised otherwise why would Sullivan loan more. Also the interest just comes out of the value of the club and of course they own the majority of the club but here’s the thing, if they didn’t take interest the other shareholders would benefit like Terry Brown and the others.

    Sean who owns the balance of shares? Do the Icelandic still own a share? Why didn’t G&S buy those? Seems daft they didn’t.

    • John says:

      Put me down as a Subbutio Accountant lol

      Pity my grammar is shyte but you know what I’m saying.

      • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

        Didn’t like you’re gran john ?😂 have a stellar john and chill 🎓🍺

  • Hammer64 says:

    Thanks Sean. Really helpful. I assume that Jan 2020 maturity date for the loans is not really significant? Will the loans just be renegotiated or rolled over or whatever the accountant doublespeak is? And if the club is sold ( I know the official party line is they will never sell, but still….) the loans are added on to the value of the club & the owners get their dosh back that way- is that right?

  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    Good article Sean, am certainly looking forward to seeing the 2016/2017 and the 2017/2018 accounts, speaking personally I would rather see them pay off the money with the highest interest first whether that be to themselves or any other type of bank, like any finances it would be nice to see if we have a surplus that being available to improve the squad or the club in another way such as being invested into safe standing behind the goals.

    On the subject of increased capacity Sean I haven’t heard much from KB or DG on them increasing the capacity even to the 60000 that there is planning permission for, can you provide details in another post of what the status of discussions is regarding that because if 60000 was in the original contract which we might safely assume I cannot see why the capacity hasn’t been increased can you ?

  • RickinJHB says:

    Does make you laugh and Neymar is costing how much to PSG?

    • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

      At the moment nothing Rick because LaLiga have refused to sanction it and UEFA want to investigate, funny how one of the big teams get its noses put out of joint all hell breaks loose, little old Barca can’t keep their man… the whole thing is a joke if PSG can finance the deal who cares, I want Neymar to move on he shouldn’t be playing second fiddle to anyone but everyone loves Messi so even when he doesn’t play well he gets all the credit and the Ballon D’OR even if it is his teammates that have done most of the work. I used to like Barca but now they are so far up their own behinds they are an embarassment.

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