Promises…promises but let’s get real as cracks appear


By Hugh Southon and Sean Whetstone 

Football and the passions it creates often leads to tribalistic over simplification -‘lovers’ and ‘haters’ are the two which always spring to mind!

Here at Claret and Hugh we have regularly been described as board lovers by theirs and our haters – oh that life was that simple.

It’s too easy to de-stabilise the club that you have indeed loved all your life by believing that you are much bigger and more important than you are and attacking it via the printed word at the drop of a pixel.

We will never make that mistake. It’s not our role. We are here to bring news and the idea that we are an extended arm of the WHUFC media department is utter nonsense.

Flies on the wall have thoroughly enjoyed some of the bitter arguments between CandH and that department on various occasions.

West Ham United don’t need us – or any other website – to fight its battles and indulge it in friendly soundbites. Oh that we were that important.

It is stuff and nonsense to believe such talk – that a website such as this or any other should be considered that vital to their well being is fiction!

Having said all that we have never disguised our support of the West Ham board, just as we support every other element of the club. Why would we want to be constantly attacking it given there isn’t, and never has been, a potential buyer in the near 10 years they have been in charge.

We have always attempted,  and will continue, to bring a balanced view of the news we receive from all over – our only mission since the site launched five years back on December 14th, 2014.

However, as we approach the ten year anniversary of the owners’ takeover of West Ham,  cracks are starting to appear and it would be entirely naive of us to pretend they don’t exist.

The move to the former Olympic Stadium was made on the promise of a world class stadium with a world-class team pushing for next-level football which we understood to mean that we would be challenging for the top six and a place in Europe.

The pair of us had split views with Sean believing it was the way forward and Hugh never wanting to leave the Boleyn. It was promoted as a great dream, but the dream was a delusion.

Over ambitious and ultra hopeful statements were issued regularly, we were over promised and there was, and still is, an under delivery.

Our owners are well-intentioned but the vision and strategy backed up by investment to match it is just not there and now we feel hard done by.

They – and us as a result – need to understand where we are and what sort of club we support and frankly it’s one that is never going to be at the sort of level to which it was it was hyped.

Burnley is a great example of accepting what you are – a club where there were no wild exaggerations of what might be achievable but one where regular decent league positioning has been delivered.

There was no grand new stadium or world class players on their agenda yet they still delivered European football on a modest budget.

Maybe it’s time now for a reality check at the top of our club. We are a mid-table team and probably always will be under the current owners as indeed has been the case for most of our history.

Our financial position is unlikely to change very much and will not bring us the financial riches we thought it might.

No-one is waiting to buy West Ham and invest hundreds of millions so we have accept our position in the Premier League pecking order and be happy with what we are.

If the day arrives when new owners take over we will support them too because we would consider anything else unhelpful.

We both get the disappointment, frustration and bitterness particularly in the present circumstances. We started as fans, will finish as fans and feel every bit of hurt as keenly as anyone else.

But first and foremost we are a news service. That’s why we arrived on the scene and it is our paramount mission. We are not an unofficial pressure group or board support group.

We will forever be a news service – nothing else – that’s it!

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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


  • Josh4266 says:

    I don’t understand how , that just because there is no other option , you can be content with our board 😂😂 just look at the stuff they have done . They have ruined this once great club. I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a clause in pellegrini’s contract about being sackable when he’s in the relegation zone so they can pay him off cheaper. It is well known you get your information from the board . Please just tell them to do the right thing for once and sack Pelle, otherwise it’s going to be like Burnley all over again . You can feel the tension .

    • LOTS of assumptions including where we get our information from. Interesting that its well known. I think you mean assumed. It’s also interesting that you haven’t gathered from the piece that we are not happy with them in various areas. And it’s interesting too that you haven’t noticed the number of pieces I’ve written saying I want him sacked and again assumed by you that I haven’t told them should I be in touch with them. As I explained in the piece…tribalistic simplicities as is the case with the last assumption about what may be in his contract. Even more interesting that people want news and then express something close to resentment over where they BELIEVE it may come from.

      • Togstr says:

        Smoke and mirrors


        I for one accept you being a news site, and I hope you accept fans coming in here venting their fury and views about this matter.

        I love West Ham, but I really hate the malfunctioning trio GSB

      • Aussiehammer15 says:

        When MP was first appointed at the club, almost all would have said, what a great piece of business that was.
        Now here we find our great club in the relegation battle again.
        Yes we lack players across the park, getting Rice to be our saviour will be our undoing. He is a fantastic talent, but if you want to keep him you have to support him, not leave him exposed, superman he is not……well not yet anyway!
        MP does not understand relegation battles….he’s a manager that has always had money in the EPL and been able to plug many gaps….something our club cannot do.
        However from an owner’s point of view, a change of management must surely be on the cards…the January transfer window is almost upon us. With a new manager comes a new set of eyes, after the Arsenal embarrassment coupled with Spurs and others, there were clearly no other options/suggestions that came from the manager, didn’t change the way we played why bother taking the team in at half-time if the message is the same. I unfortunately had to watch my young sons tears of frustration and disbelief during the Arsenal match, yo day he was upset at 10 years old is an understatement.
        I was a massive supporter of MP, but I’m afraid one win every 5 weeks will not keep us in the EPL and MP
        wont be here if we get relegated. January window is almost upon us, a new manager brings new hope….and potential other teams bad christmas performances is currently all we have to get us out of this hole. A message to our owners bring a bit of Christmas cheer and hope…..please Santa a new manager!

        • Aussiehammer15 says:

          *****to say he was upset at 10 years old is an understatement *******
          Sorry auto correct corrected me when it wasn’t required!!!

      • josh4266 says:

        Hugh look at ex , and Dave Walker , they have hinted many a time that you guys get your info from the board. So you’ve never had any information come directly from Sullivan? You guys do you , you run your site well . All I’m saying is the day our owners leave our club is going to be one of the better days in our history . All the best

        • You can ask me to look at whoever you like Josh. I don’t talk to either of them. I am true to myself. If others wish to hint that they know where our stuff comes from that’s up to them and if u wish to believe them rather than me then that’s your call. Do you ever see me say anything about either of them of KUMB. The answer is No because its absolutely none of my business who they talk to. And it would be entirely unprofessional of me to do so

  • AD says:

    Unfortunately guys, you have set out a well intended piece to prove your neutrality and acknowledge the board isn’t great but to be honest have failed to do that.

    The message you have ended up putting out is ‘we don’t really like whats happening either but we are stuck with them and let’s accept it, let’s not get ahead of ourselves’. You then seem to be trying to persuade us that no-one else is interested so lets make do.

    Can you not see why people would think you are pro- board? I don’t think this helps, however well intended it is.

    In fairness, you guys don’t know what passing interest there may have been in billionaire circles and how many may have been deterred by Brady’s suggested valuation of £1 billion. I think if you trawl through old tweets of Sullivan Junior, you will see that he even made comment on a potential offer from Red Bull and scoffed at a potential offer of £600m+. Gives you an idea where they are pricing things. So let’s not assume that no-one else is interested if the price was fair.

    In rough terms, they made an investment of £85m for 85% of our club, and taking their own comments, they are valuing 100% of the club now at somewhere between £600m and a billion. Lets not add the usual confusion,. they’ve pretty much netted out to zero in their tenure and thats after paying themselves interest AND clearing down 50% of the debt during that time,

    It’s great business by them, for them! However, since they’ve made a fortune out of our club in worth, if not profits, perhaps they could invest some in this world class team they promised?

  • Doug says:

    I support you hugh I thought your piece was honest and clear. As a former pr man myself amd a daily visitor to this site its pretty obvious to see youre not a mouthpiece for the board.i also dont think it’s right that Josh assumes you want to be a mouthpiece for the critics either. You are neutral and you do it well

    • Hammer says:

      Keep moderating anti board posts and you will always be defined as a pro board newsagent.

      A simple question. Are you funded by any member of the board, directly or indirectly?

      • We only moderate comments that swear, that could bee libellous or personally abuse individuals or groups of people

        And to answer your question, no we are not funded by any member of the board directly or indirectly

      • I can see no comments from you that have been moderated if you don’t swear, make libellous or make abusive comments we will publish. We can take criticism without personal abuse.

      • Amusing idea that a board considered so tight would fund CandH. We have the same commercial partners now…Snack Media …as we have had since 2014.Nor do I notice either of these posts moderated. We are a family friendly site and moderate as a result only for reasons Sean gives.

  • Richard13 says:

    A very interesting and well balanced piece.
    For what it it worth I think the promises were made in good faith regarding the stadium move and the elevation to the “next level”. What I think happened along the way was more teams strengthened and developed than may have been envisaged leading to our own progress becoming harder and as it seems now, probably almost impossible.
    However, true fans will support the club through thick and thin. I just wish the many that think it is so easy to run a football club at this level would realise the decisions cannot be made with the benefit of hindsight as is the way with supporters. Also, the same can be said of running and coaching the team. Yes we can see the problems and we all have our ideas of how to fix them but in reality none of us could.
    I want to thank you for the site and hope you continue to bring us the news for many years to come.

  • Benny the Oz says:

    Hey Guys,
    Thats a great written piece! I have followed this site ever since it started and It’s my only source of Westham Info as it covers the Good, Bad & Ugly so keep it up. As I live in Sunny Perth (Aus) I cant get to games so this site becomes a link between me and the club in a way.
    Merry Xmas guys and look forward to more News

  • zahama says:

    I am a fan of this site – it is my go to place for news and match reports. I do not believe that it is a “board supporting” site – I am not a great fan of the board – I have previously posted that on several occasions Sullivan has shown a lack of class in both actions (firing Avram Grant in the tunnel at Wigan instead of waiting for the end of the season) and comments (we should have fired Slav at the end of his second season ; my sons begged me not to sign Snodgrass). I also found it scary when Stuart Pearce said that while assistant manager under Moyes he never ever met Sullivan – although “the very personable Mr Gold often came over for a chat after matches”. I would also be very happy if Karen Brady acknowledged the conflict of interest between her column in the Sun and her role on the board and dropped one of them (preferably her role on the board) – but I accept that it is not that easy to “fire the board”

    A bit off topic but something has been bothering me relating to ex-WHUemployee – his posts are always informative and mostly correct and always respectful – but my questions – asked without any malice – are 1) why is he an ex-employee (i.e. was teh parting of teh ways amicable) and 2) as an ex-employee how does he get access to priviledged information (I remember under Slav we usually knew the correct line-up a good few hours before kick-off which meant that the opposition could also get this information) . I remember Moyes being angry when news of a training ground bust-up with Andy Carroll leaked – are other clubs as porous as WHU (and not only in defence)?

  • Michael Miller says:

    There’s no need for you two to defend yourselves, we all know your stance with regard to the Board and accept your position but also accept that this is the most balanced and sensible site for us West Ham punters. I’ve dabbled with other West Ham fan sites over the years but have always come back here because of the the abuse, and ridiculous views and basic nastiness of other sites became too much.

    I understand your viewpoint, I don’t always agree with it, but feel free to give my views, counter arguments and opinions without getting abused or censored – more power to your elbow!

  • AspiEd says:

    You seem to drink from a very familiar font of delusion.

    Who, exactly, are you trying to convince!?

    Without bothering to cite every time you have contradicted your above statements, here is one of the most recent and pertinent examples:
    Hammers crash again – it HAS to be goodbye Pellegrini
    Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on December 9, 2019 in News, Whispers

    There really is nothing left to say but sack him!
    No sign of you quoting anyone else there, so whereas I would not accuse you of being puppets of the owners, the idea that you only report the opinions/words/statements/views of others is more of an attempt to fill some white space, especially with all the repetition, than the truth.

    • It’s a blog/match report which contains news and comment which is part of what we do thus your criticisms are flawed but thanks! Contradiction is allowed in football. Many change their minds

  • West Ham Fan No 32 says:

    It doesn’t matter to me personally if you are pro or against the board. All I want to see is a strategy from the board that leads to progress, investment in high quality players that are hungry to improve the fortunes of our team. I agreed and still agree that the move was needed to progress, it was a great deal financially for the club but we haven’t seen that translated at the hyped levels in terms of results.

    From a performance level the chair people have tried repeatedly and come up short consistently, taking into consideration their years of experience the evidence would suggest they care about the team and want the best for us but lack the understanding to take us forward.

    Reluctantly I would suggest looking for new owners that have pockets deep enough, experience of the industry and progressive views to take us to the next level.

    As fans who loyally support the club it’s fair and right for us to expect the chair people to act responsibly and find the next custodians isn’t it ?

  • Pacific Claret says:

    “Maybe it’s time now for a reality check at the top of our club. We are a mid-table team and probably always will be under the current owners as indeed has been the case for most of our history.”

    Why? Many mid-table teams in Europe went on to play regular football in the Europa League with budgets smaller than West Ham’s. They did it by having good planning and competent coaching staff. We seem to improvise with no clear long term plan and dreadful player choices.

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