Hammers Md In The Spotlight

WEST Ham United's Managing Director recently went under the spotlight to answer questions on all aspects of the Club's future.

He spoke to Ken Dyer of the Evening Standard on topics from administration to the East Stand redevelopment and, after requests from fans, the full interview is reproduced here.

Q: Do you anticipate any takeover activity this summer? There has been speculation that both David Sullivan and Michael Tabor are interested. Would you sell if the price was right?

PA: Much has been written recently about potential takeovers and consortiums. I would like to place on record that we have not received any serious offer or even an expression of interest. The board have a duty under the Takeover Code to make shareholders aware of any serious offer for the company; it would then be the decision of the shareholders if it is acceptable to them.
The Chairman has stated on numerous occasions that he would welcome discussions with any potential serious buyer that could ensure major investment into the team.

Q: If West Ham United do not go up, the £6 million parachute payment ends. How will you continue to service the debt in the Championship. In addition, Tomas Repka is leaving at the end of the season. Do you anticipate more big earners going before the start of next season and will you have to sell the likes of Matty Etherington? 

PA: The Club has repeatedly assured fans that should we fail to gain promotion we are not in danger of administration. Detailed trading and cash-flow forecasts are maintained on a two-year rolling basis, which assume Coca-Cola Championship status. These take into account the loss of our parachute payment from next season and are based on realistic assumptions regarding attendances and other key factors.
Consistent with standard practice, a significant amount of the recent transfer fee income will be received during the summer of 2005. We will also benefit from contracts expiring in respect of high earning players signed while in the Premiership.
We have an excellent relationship with our bankers, who are extremely supportive. Our loans are structured over a long period with scheduled repayments that are included within our cash-flow budget.
That said, with our ability to generate gate and commercial revenue, we should still be able to sustain one of the highest player wage bills in the division for as long as it takes to achieve promotion.
As with all other football clubs we have to balance player sales and acquisitions against the wages required for the overall squad. In consultation with the manager this balance will be achieved and may include some changes to the playing squad.
I do not, however, believe that other than players coming to the end of their contracts there will be many changes and next season we will benefit from a more stable squad than we had enjoyed during the past two seasons.
The average age of the players who played in the final scheduled League match of the season at Watford and are contracted for next season was only 24. This added to the young players just outside the starting XI is extremely encouraging.

Q: If Hammers win promotion will work be started on the redevelopment of the East Stand? Also, have you any plans to move from Upton Park?

PA: We continue to work on the existing plans to redevelop the East Stand. Promotion alone would not dictate the commencement of the rebuilding work. In the short term, we would wish to ensure all available funds are directed at the team to give us the best possible opportunity to consolidate our position back in the Premiership.
We are, however, committed to finishing the stadium. Once built, the new stand would take our capacity to 40,000 and make the Boleyn Ground one of the best in the country. With the above in mind, I would not envisage a move away from Upton Park.

Q: What has been the Board's biggest success and what will be your legacy and that of Chairman Terry Brown when you finally leave West Ham United?

PA: As a Board we accept that our current position makes it very difficult for supporters to look positively at the Chairman's 12-year tenure. But those who can remember when he came to office know that the Club needed to sell a player just to trade through the oncoming season. Land desperately needed for redevelopment needed to be purchased.
The infrastructure of the Club was in desperate need of investment, our pitch had no drainage to speak of, we retailed out of a temporary hut in the car park and our much-heralded Academy was dormant. We even leased our training ground.
We have moved on, our Academy is the envy of most clubs, our accounts show a net asset value of £40 million. We own our ground, as well as two training complexes and have acquired a purpose-built Football in the Community complex, probably the finest in the country.

Q: Can you see West Ham United back in the Premiership and competing on an even keel with Club's such as Tottenham?

PA: Everyone at the Club is determined to work as hard as possible to ensure the quickest return to the Premiership. Last season we missed out in the Play-off Final, and this season we will go back to Cardiff with another opportunity to win promotion.
If we aren't successful we will redouble our efforts next season. Once we do gain promotion I see no reason why in time we cannot challenge for Europe and domestic honours.
We will be in a far healthier financial position, having a low wage base and a much lower debt position. Even in the Championship our income, stripping out TV revenues, would still be the envy of many Premiership clubs.

Q: What has been the Board's biggest mistake in the last five years and do you think it was a mistake to get rid of Harry Redknapp?

PA: I am sure most people would say our biggest mistake in the last five years was to appoint Glenn Roeder and, looking at the outcome of his second season, it would be hard to disagree. However, this only tells half the story: people forget that he took a team which only narrowly missed relegation under Harry Redknapp to seventh in the Premier League the following season.
A combination of injuries to key players and the effects of the first year of the transfer window mask the fantastic effort put in by the squad after the January window, which allowed us to strengthen the team. Although ultimately the 42 points we amassed was not good enough.

Q: If you do not win promotion will Alan Pardew still be West Ham United manager next season?

PA: West Ham United has always tried to be supportive of its managers and give them security to make decisions that are in the best long-term interests of the Club. The constant speculation concerning Alan Pardew's position is not helpful, but I am sure he is strong enough to cope and not be distracted from his goal.
Alan is well aware that expectations are extremely high at this Club and everyone demands a return to the Premiership as quickly as possible.
Being linked by the media with possible replacements for a vacancy that does not exist is not helpful, but unfortunately beyond our control. I believe Alan is comfortable with the relationship he enjoys with the Board and understands the pressure at West Ham United.