On the fourth day of TBIR Christmas – The Best football tat

Football clubs are the best in the world at taking any item, sticking a badge on it and selling it at a premium, because they know that like lemmings jumping over a cliff, fans will buy anything.  Back in the day some of the big clubs dipped a toe into true commercialisation by producing curtains, wallpaper and duvet covers.  I even had a West Ham throw on my bed that potentially stopped some “action” when a young girl managed to be persuaded upstairs whilst my parents were at work one summer holiday and as a Spurs fan she said “for God yes; for my country, yes; for my Queen, yes but not bloody likely for Billy Bonds”.

So in the past year we have had our feelers out for this new category of award.  We have seen some belters that didn’t make the final cut.  The rule here was then we had to see the items for ourselves.  So without further ado I give you the top three items of football tat in 2012:-

3rd best football tat – VfL Bochum net curtains
8116079356_ff77f7319a_bImagine the scene.  You are in a bar close to your favourite team’s ground. but you cannot look out of the window because you will not be seen as a fanatical follower of your team.  So what do you do?  What about buying some small net curtains emblazoned with your club badge that both protects your privacy and shows your allegiance.  Well look no further than these beauties being modelled by none other than Kenny “Adventures in Tinpot” Legg on our recent beano to the Ruhr Valley.  Available in home “white” or away “whitish”.

2nd best football tat – The Sullivan and Gold bobbleheads
SugoWe all know that David Sullivan and David Gold have a “bit of an ego” but even by their standards the appearance of these beauties in the West Ham United Christmas catalogue takes some beating.  Why would anyone, outside of the SuGo families want these monstrosities on their desk?  What value do they add to anyone’s life?  Unless you want to take a sledgehammer to them, of course.  And the real impressive part, they cost a “mere” £12.99.

Best football tat 2012 – The Lille signing toaster
8248897452_7e445e92f7_bThe club toaster has been around for a few years now for those fans who cannot live without their cooked bread emblazoned with your club badge on.  These are really old hat but imagine my surprise when browsing the Megastore in Lille when I came across this beauty.  Not only a toaster that burns Lille LOSC on your breakfast but plays a little ditty when it’s ready..”Allez, Allez Lille OSC” goes the toaster until you flick the switch or smashed to smithereens by your partner.

An open letter to our beloved leaders

Dear Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan,

I refer to your letter to me on the 19th May when you laid out your ten point plan for the future of the club I have supported since I was 5 years old, and one where for the past 11 seasons I have had a season ticket.  At the time, with the season just about to end I decided not to believe your “story” and decline to renew my season tickets.

I put up with almost weekly emails encouraging me to renew my seat despite asking to be removed from your mailing list.  Did you comply with my request in accordance with the Data Protection Act?  No – you simply sent me twice as many.  You emailed me at 3.30pm on Wednesday 23rd June telling me that Scottie Parker was “committed” and why hadn’t I.  I remember it exactly at that time as it was slap bang in the middle of me watching England’s game versus Slovenia. Continue reading

THAT email!

Dear Supporter

I am writing this on Wednesday morning. I had no sleep last night, having watched the shambolic performance by the team against Wolves.

I was as angry and upset as every supporter in the stadium at the disorganised way we played, allowing Wolves too much space so that they looked more like Manchester United. This was the culmination of five defeats in a row, including an appalling performance against Bolton.

David Gold and David Sullivan

We have a few very talented players in our team, but it is a very unbalanced squad. Individually we have some very good players, but this is not being converted into a good team performance. Nobody at the club should delude themselves that we are a good team. The table at this stage of the season does not lie.

However, with some of the outstanding players we have, we can and must do better as a team. I apologise to every supporter for the pathetic showing on Tuesday night but I fully expect a dramatic improvement today as we have so much individual talent.

I accept that the club is in deep relegation trouble. However, we are a long way from being relegated. With your help we can get out of this and regroup in the summer.

This is a difficult time. It has been a week to regret but Saturday’s result can change that. We need a win, we need you to support us, to forgive us the result against Wolves and to remember what this great club is about.

The history and tradition of West Ham United, the heritage and the prestige demands we are a Barclays Premier League club. But we have no right to that. We have to earn it. The Academy of Football? Now we have to show that. The manager knows, I know, the players know.

When I first started supporting West Ham, we had a tradition for playing the game ‘the right way’. I will settle for any way right now, as long as it is the winning way!

We all have our favourite players, our heroes. Older fans can remember players like Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters – the cornerstone of England’s 1966 World Cup win. I know rival teams mock us West Ham fans for saying that, but one was the captain, another scored a hat-trick, the other scored the fourth. That sounds like a claret and blue contribution to me.

Younger supporters will probably look to strikers such as Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee as well as Paolo Di Canio. They all brought something special to the club.

Then there was Sir Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Alan Taylor, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Phil Parkes, Alvin Martin and Ray Stewart. We didn’t win much but there was always a quality and a style. Another hero to watch: a midfield playmaker, a little wizard on the wing, a goalscorer.

Now we need this team to show their quality.

Now we need this team to show us their talent, their desire, their passion, their dare.

Now we need new heroes.

Saturday may be tense, on Saturday you will feel anxious and, at times, unsettled. I ask that we try not to transmit that on to the field, that we get behind the team and provide them with a platform. The rest is up to them.

Click here to buy tickets for Stoke

It’s hard being an owner. I’m finding it’s harder being an owner who is a supporter. I hope for happier times soon.

Thank you for sharing the same vision and dreams.

Come on West Ham.

David Sullivan Signature

David Sullivan
Joint Chairman

Falling out of love with you…

According to Elvis Presley “wise men said, only fools rush in”…well as a fan of West Ham United I can certainly say that I have fallen well and truly out of love with the whole Premier League circus.

After just two months of watching our “saviours” I have seen them belittle the club, undermine the manager, wash our dirty laundry in public and then produce a number of wild statements about the future of the club, the stadium and the players without once displaying any substance behind anything.

At the first game under the new regime we had “the world’s biggest bubble machine” and a banner strategically placed in the Chicken run directly opposite the directors box welcoming the “Two David’s”.  Yet I am still to find a fan who actually welcomes their presence after just a short period of time.

“You just watch” said a Blue Nose friend of mine “They will do four things in the next six months.  One – they will complain about the state of the club they have bought.  Two – they will complain about the ground, and how they need to move.  Three – they will claim they are going to sign the best players in the world, then deliver hopeless centre forwards no one has heard of or wants.  And four – David Sullivan will appear at every opportunity in a claret jacket”

And how right he has been.  We’ve seen a range of headlines, all apparently, “exclusives” from Sullivan, and all with his lovely Claret jacket on.

  • “It makes no commercial sense to buy this club”
  • “We have £110million in debt”

West Ham owner David Sullivan says the wealth of Chelsea and Manchester City is bad for football and a salary cap is needed to avoid financial meltdown and then in the transfer window, he said he was prepared to offer an unnamed player £100,000 per week (rumoured to be Ruud Van Nistelrooy), but ultimately the club ended up signing Benni McCarthy from Blackburn (who has so far played about 7 minutes), and taking Mido (rumoured to be only on £1,000 per week – but I can only assume that we are also picking up his ample food bill judging by his expanding girth) and Brazilian striker Ilan on loan (the player no one had heard of).

According to initial reports Sullivan and Gold had paid £50m for a 50% share of the club.  Due diligence suggested that there was £38m debt, but a week later Sullivan told every man and his dog that actually CB Holdings had not opened any bank statements for a while as the debt to the banks was £50m alone plus there was another £40m owed to other clubs (but declined to say for what players as we have hardly bought anyone in the last couple of years).  So that still leaves £20m unaccounted for right?  Sure but Sullivan and Gold had paid £50m so some of that went to reduce the debt…er no because last week they announced they were seeking £20m of city investment to help the financial situation.  Deputy Chairman Karren Brady launched one of her famous quotes at this point:-

“Although this fundraising is initially aimed at professional investors, I would love to be able to bring in our loyal and fantastic fan base as investors further down the line so that they can share in the club’s great future, on and off the pitch,” she said.  Thanks Karren, we all have a spare £1m behind the sofa.  And then David Gold publically stated that we would “lend” Portsmouth £10million to “help them through their financial crisis”.  I.e, if you do not go under then we will not lose 4 points that we won off you this year and thus plunge us into the relegation zone.  But surely this is classed as investing in another club which is against the whole “ownership” thing?

But this was nothing compared to Brady’s statement in the Sun a few weeks later:-

“Maybe our way is a short-cut to a new West Ham headquarters but to disqualify the stadium’s only viable future that I know of is to make a bonfire of the dreams of thousands and thousands of people in our under-privileged area. I love the idea of calling the club West Ham Olympic

Empty seats at Upton Park

The Olympic Stadium.  You could write a whole chapter on this one.  I found it very worrying that one of the first statements the new owners put out was the potential in the Olympic stadium as a home for the club.  Why?  What is wrong with Upton Park?  Transport links work, although they could be easily improved if someone convinced National Express to open the train platform at Upton Park instead of having trains run straight through.  Sure we need a new East stand and may be 40,000 would be nice instead of 35,000.  Having seen the piss-poor away support from the likes of Wigan, Blackburn, Birmingham City and Fulham (difficult 11 mile journey across London that one) and the high matchday ticket prices, we have seldom sold out at the 35,000 level.  So what is the point of moving to a 50,000+ stadium?  Is this some mad plan to hijack the 2018 World Cup bid?  IT WONT HAPPEN – GET OVER IT!

Interestingly enough, below is a quote from Sullivan in the Birmingham Evening Post from 2008:-

Birmingham needs a City of Birmingham Stadium. Villa Park (current capacity 44,000) is not good enough or big enough for the World Cup or the Commonwealth Games.  We (Birmingham City) want to be central to the scheme, we are happy for it to go ahead and happy to be an anchor tenant.”

If we do get the 2018 World Cup, hands up who thinks Villa Park WONT be on the list?  So just you Mr Sullivan then.

So there we have it.  All of the four prophecies have come true less than a month into the relationship.  In that time we have played two home games.  Has anything changed?  Well we have installed a new giant bubbles machine to greet the teams; we have seen “Thanks David and David” banners planted in the crowd and we have seen the generous sale of our home and away shirts for just £9.99 (so a new sponsor will be announced soon then).  We have also seen an online petition to bring back the Hammerettes, probably staffed by models at Sullivan’s daily “paper”.

But other things haven’t changed.  Asked whether our season tickets (the second most expensive in England and dearer than anything on offer at Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich) would be reduced next season, we got some bollocks about cash flow and players.  Trying to contact the club on such issues as asking what the club are doing about persistent standing in the area where I sit (I pay to sit not to stand.  If they want to introduce standing then fine – give people the choice where to sit) has fallen on deaf ears for weeks.  Of course this is in breach of the Stadiums act, brought in after the Taylor Report, the same report and act that makes it illegal to drink in your seat, yet they will be quick to act on that one.

Hull players wonder who will be next to leave early

Results on the pitch have started to improve.  Is this due to our new owners?  Er no – I think you will find that the return of Carlton Cole and Franco has had a lot to do with the TWO wins this year, so don’t get carried away by their PR machine rolling out the crap that their speech about cutting salaries at the end of the season was “motivational”!

This week we have seen more PR stunts.  Despite offering kids tickets for a £1 for the re-arranged Wolves game, sales were so poor that the club were forced into new tactic .  “Simply spent £50 in our club shops this weekend and get a free ticket for the Wolves game”. Another cheap trick that alienates the season ticket holders even more.  And as if we hadn’t hear enough of their spin, Joint Chairman David Gold announced his desire to “Bring home Becks“…yes, West Ham would be interested in signing the 34 year old, not as a valuable asset to the squad but as a “sensational ambassador to the club”.  So let’s get this straight….all of the players are going to have to take a pay cut, we have shed “non-essential” staff yet we can still potentially afford to bring in one of the world’s most expensive players.  As with the £100k a week player story earlier this year I expect to see Lee Sharpe instead of Becks take to the field in August as our new “great signing”.

So am I likely to pay £750+ next year for a seat that I cannot sit in at a club that is determined to plead the moral high ground yet continue to wash our dirty linen in public?  Well so far this season I have seen games at 29 other grounds.  29 Other grounds where my SEAT has cost significantly less and where the atmosphere in the most part is much better (such as the 331 fans at Bishop’s Stortford versus Lewes last Saturday).  I think not….What was it the Villa fans used to sing?  “There’s a circus in the town, in the town.”