07/01/2009

Mess, message, messenger?

The article in the Independent today is a rare thing. A modulated piece of journalism about West Ham!
Jason Burt, the author of the article, is said to be close to the West Ham board and was the one to first publish the news that the Icelanders were in for us.
This makes this article extra interesting to “dissect” since at least some of the information probably stems from the Club.
Tipping off a journo is a somewhat smoother way to communicate to the public than through a Q&A article with a despised CEO on the official site, making it a better vehicle for the club positions – and propaganda.

The article starts out with previously known stuff about Ethers and Davenport on their way for decent money, and this adds some more credibility to these rumours. They also make good sense to me.

But what will the money be used for? Burt argues that this money will increase the possibility to keep Bellamy, Upson and Parker.
It goes without saying that selling non-essential players cannot be bad for our possibilities to keep the first team players, or even get someone new in, but it obviously depends on how much money is needed and for what? Is it to lower the wage bill so we can turn the club into a self sufficient business not in the need for extra money from the outside? And is this enough? Is it to build the financial buffer in case we need to pay Sheffield off for the Tevez thing?
Regardless, I have a feeling that at least one or maybe two high earners will be sold during the window to further reduce the wage cost, decreasing the running expenses. My guess is no different than anybody else’s – Neill is one of them. However, to speculate on the amount of money needed is really tough for one with no access to the books.

Burt then sends on the Board message that “The money gained from such transfers will be ploughed back into the running of the club”. What exactly does that mean and is the opposite even thinkable?

Burt also mentions in his article that offers for several players have been turned down by the club. He uses this partly to strengthen the feeling that no essential players will have to be sold. I don’t really disagree with that, but one must bear in mind that this would also be the usual conduct for any bargaining – turning down the first offers. Turning down offers is by no means exclusively significant for a club truly trying to hang on to players.

Please note that I, as I have repeatedly said, is not totally against a sale of any player. It all comes down to the price and the alternative. There is plenty of time for renewed and improved offers for these players.

The board has repeatedly said the Club is in economical balance, but to spot the difference between fact and a well run PR stunt is not always easy!
Some have even taken this “planning for the future” as a sign that our owner Björgolfur Guðmundsson is holding on to the club but I am of a different opinion. BG desperately need people to think that holding on to the Club is a real possibility, as the opposite will definitely be detrimental to his position during a sale negotiation.
This work, to show that West Ham is a well run club with a viable future, is of utmost importance to persuade a buyer (with less than oil money) that there are no additional costs (bar the Tevez stuff) attached to a takeover. It’s pretty much like letting the car have a service before you sell it, giving the buyer a feeling of security.
What really decides if BG will (be able to) hold on to the club is the economical situation of the holding company Hansa, not the state of the club economy as such.

The Burt article goes on stating that BG is keen to sell before the moratorium on the holding company is lifted in March.
Eh… yes... that makes sense, since after the moratorium is lifted it’s all out of his hands and he can no longer influence the sale! If he wants to have a say it’s before March or never! It doesn’t take any inside information to figure that one out.
Burt then says that the asking price is probably less than the ridiculous £250 million stated in the moratorium request (with the purpose to persuade the Icelandic legal system to grant the moratorium…). That is also something that everybody even remotely interested in this issue already knew.

To sum it up, one finds surprisingly little of news value in this article but finally someone that put information together without the aim to ride on the catastrophe wave. Just what you would expect of a journo tipped off by the club.

1 comment:

Hakan said...

I totally agree that the article did not contain much, if any, new information. Still a good summary of the present situation, but a half-decent journalist could have written it without acess to any sources "close to the board". The bit about "ploughing back" the money into the running of the club is the most obvious give-away that this is a PR-stunt. We are supposed to feel assured that the money will not be payed as dividend to the owner.
The sales of Davenport and Etherington seem to generate more money than I expected. So far, so good.