Hammers and the wages dilemma



CandH Opinion

by Hugh Southon

There’s been a lot of talk about the wage bill over the last week as the Hammers look to make several new signings.

It’s understandable the board aim to be sensible and involve themselves in ‘good housekeeping.’

It’s equally understandable the fans are screaming for more and more money to be spent – it’s par for the course! Twas ever thus!

We all know what happens on our household budgets when we spend crazily but we all divorce ourselves from the effects when it happens to someone of something else.

But we shouldn’t when considering our football club – one of the biggest things by far in our lives. Remember Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves, Bolton, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest Coventry City and many others!

It’s one of the facts of Premier League life that wages and league position are bound together almost as a single entity.

Wages outlay and league position reflect each other by and large. At the last count our players were the 14th highest paid in the league – our finishing position was 13th!

Whether we want to consider FFP or not – and that isn’t the point of this discussion– that fact is that it exists and we are nowhere near the top table when looking at the personal terms we can afford pay players.

Thus it follows we need to resign ourselves to the fact that our league position is always likely to be reflected in the league table. It’s just a fact of life.

Calling for new owners with deeper pockets is every fan’s right but we need to cast our minds back to 2010 when the current owners took over.

There really was no other serious buyer after the Icelandic exercise which had put us as close to the knackers yard as it’s possible to get.

We’re a great club with an amazing history but in financial terms we were a car crash happening in slow motion and there were only two realistic buyers.

Why? Because we had gone down a reckless spending road which some fans want us to revisit.

Do we want more of the same? – I certainly don’t.

I want a stable club that goes to the OS (another discussion guys) debt free ready to reap the financial rewards along with the potential it releases for future growth.

In a game that demands instant answers and immediate results patience is always at a premium but right at this moment that’s what every one of us needs to show.

We can all scream as loudly as we like – sadly it will make no difference to what cash is available


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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • paulcolborne says:

    All you say is of course quite correct but unfortunately we have to live in the real world.If the other mid to bottom teams all spend beyond their means as seems likely and we do not then we will be relegated.Also we pay Champions League prices yet are continually given a championship standard product.Sorry but I think the owners either have to inject capital(not as a loan)or find somebody who will .

    • I’d like to see some evidence that mid to bottom teams do that – Palace? I can assure you the owners have been looking for invest er from day one – nobody has appeared. That I think is the real world Paul

  • Poacher says:

    Firstly, May I congratulate you on a first class site, with fair, unbiased and above all balanced reporting. What a refreshing change. Excellent sources too.

    I guess that in the world inhabited by football supporters, there is always pressure for instant success and that this sometimes gets in the way of objective thinking. There is no doubt that the club was in a very poor state financially when the current board took over and that our entire future was uncertain. There are clear signs that this is improving; so too is the genuine support and ambition that they have for the club.

    Owing to many factors, including FFP, debts to be serviced and the fact that the owners are millionaires & not billionaires, progress will necessarily be sure and steady, as opposed to overnight.

    Personally, I feel very grateful that we have the current owners and senior management team. With them I feel that success, financial stability and progress is assured. Let’s get behind them in their efforts on our behalf.

  • hammerputt says:

    A well balanced article; the fact of the matter is that it will always be difficult to break in to the the top eight in the Premier league without financial stability.

  • conkerpot says:

    This article makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. West ham are mid table in capital outlay terms. The trouble is that the profit generated by a higher league finish would not be enough to compensate the huge increase in capital outlay required to achieve a higher league placing. Unlike Manchester City and Chelsea etc we do not have money to burn. We are a millionaires dream. We are not a billionaires plaything. To get to the next level we do require investment from outside the club. We do require the move to a bigger stadium. We do require the growth of the business side of things. The trouble is most of us will always want more. If our hearts were ruled by our heads we probably wouldn’t be west ham supporters. We would probably go and support one of the plastic teams

    • Very very well put. Life as an Iron involves emotion and romance perhaps more than any other club but the word BALANCE has always been the most important in my life

  • markro says:

    It is almost always the case that the demands of the fans are based on passion, not cold, calculated thinking. I, too, think that the owners have good middle and long term plans for the club.
    We are living in interesting times, though, as the directive has been given for more attractive football. Zarate is an excellent start and the other names mentioned to date as possible new players sound encouraging.
    Crucially we must live within our means and build sensibly.
    At the moment I am excited about this transfer window. Time will tell.

  • Matt the Chat says:

    As we have entered a new era of financial fair play, no longer can we dream on a rich owner forking out unrealistic sums on money to buy players beyond what we earn right? So it does amaze me when WHU fans are so anti Sullivan and Gold? The move to the big stadium in 2016 will generate the capital to go and buy better quality players. West Ham are still in the Premier League despite the injury to Carroll, who we had little or no attack without last year. Defensively we were hard to score against (despite playing rather uninispiring football), and we didn’t really look like going down( at least not as likely at the three that did that is)! In my mind it’s clear Sullivan and Gold are fans that aren’t in it for the money, but instead for the ego boost it gives them to own the childhood team they did and still do support. If fans were a little bit patient, I believe that Sam Allardyce has build a solid defence in the last 2 years, and that with a few wise buys in all positions, we will not only go up in the league, but also play a better style of football too! Coyi!!

  • St Ed Hammer says:

    As a Sam Fan i suspect you wont agree with a lot of my posts nor i yours! However this post i totally agree with and have been saying much the same on WHTID all last season. The days of rich investors coming in and doing a chelsea\citi route to the PL title should be over as clubs have to generate income from commercial and or season ticket sales to be able to increase the wage limit. When we get to the OS both those income streams have massive potential to generate the funds that can take us to the next level but dont expect it to happen overnight. For next season if we can bring in 4 players of the AC\Downing type quality then we should have a more comfortable season, challenging for 8th rather than looking over our shoulders at 17th! A further injection of quality for the following season and we coud have a team capable of getting in to Europe, but dont hold your breath the other clubs we compete with in the bottom half wont be standing still!!

  • manurewa hammer says:

    Under the circs, I believe our owners are trying their utmost to provide financial stability, and getting the squad to ensure we play PL football for a long period. Of course top6 would be nice, but, lets get everything in order.

  • laurencedav1 says:

    While I agree with a lot of the above, the chairman
    has not mentioned any Premier League Teams
    in his report, all relegated clubs, therefore
    is he anticipating another basement scrap or relegation battle next season.

    I suggest that we loose the dead wood very quickly
    and invest in some young talent, but as far as I
    can see it just big hype to renew season tickets

    Let’s be honest if your a quality player you
    want good wages and want to be playing for honours not scraping for

  • Poacher says:

    I don’t believe that you can interpret anything from the recent actions or words of board members, which would lead one to believe that they anticipate another relegation battle next season. They have clearly said that last season was unacceptable and that things must change.

    Season ticket renewal depends on the desire of fans to turn up to watch the team – based on last season’s performance, that desire will be put to the test I am sure and if it is absent – perhaps temporarily, I do not believe that any amount of hype or marketing will make people change their minds.

    The board are genuine fans, who passionately want the team to succeed, the same as we do. Getting rid of the dead wood is a priority, but to get rid of them you have to have someone who wants them. Through buying some wrong (talent, age, salary demands) players over the past 2-3 seasons , takers are very scarce. That is just one of reasons for the change of strategy at the club. I truly hope that it works.

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