Communication and Smart Money?

Co-chairman David S writes on the OS "I made a promise that I would not sell Scott and I will not, for any amount of money, break that promise to the West Ham supporters”.
And that is less than 24 hour after his co-chairman colleague David G says to the BBC "I don’t think that anybody ever can give a 100 % guarantee about anybody.”… “There is a never never in football, I learnt that many years ago in football”.
Obviously Sullivan never went to that lesson.
Still, that is more of a funny observation than anything else. The moral of both stories is that Parker will stay.

I must say that the symbolic value the Davids have given Scott is huge and so is, according to rumors, the pay they are offering him to sign an extension to his current deal. I should know better than to bite at that kind of rumors but if they are even close the Davids will be guilty of signing players on exactly the kind of money that they have ridiculed ever since they started to comment on West Hams finances.

Previous talk of huge salaries to Ruud v N, and what have you, I've dismissed as publicity stunt bluffs that never ever ran the risk of being called. But this?

Is Parker really a player we could never do without? Is it really wise to use a very very significant part of the money available for wages on Parker? For 5 years? ...or are there some risky clauses in his current contract they want to get out of and are willing to pay some money to do so, while securing a great footballer and winning the fans over? Again, they have previously strongly cracked down on expensive long term deals made by the previous owners, pointing out the big economic risk to the Club that these £50.000+ deals have presented. And those contracts were signed during the champagne-era while this certainly is not!
I can’t see Gollivan making that big of an exception from their own way of running a football club just to secure Parker for an additional 2 years. They are shrewder than that, right?


Who is attracting the most attractive players?

One should do what one does best and I am fairly good at worrying and being a bit pessimistic. Maybe that’s why I caught on to the Icelandic problems ahead of some optimists, and maybe that’s why I’ll miss out on the first signs of an upturn.

When I finally read the intro and highlights of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance that was released in June (the whole report is £600!) I couldn't stop myself from worrying about the future of English football in financial terms, which we all know is intimately related to the quality of football.
The report discusses the reasons for the relatively low impact the financial crisis has had on economics of football in general and the English game in particular. This is very encouraging indeed especially as there are quite few economically strained clubs at the moment who are relying on an increasing, or at least not a shrinking, flow of money to sustain their existence. It also says that the English Premier League is one of the most equal of leagues with an internal revenue spread of “only” 6 times between the richest and the less fortunate clubs. As far as I understand the reason for that being the equality in the division of TV-money. It does "bite the hand that feeds it" as "The Swiss Rambler" says in his article on the same subject by pointing out that an unhealthy part of the money made is going to player wages, threatening the financial stability of teams. The Guardian also ran a decent piece on the report.

One of the sentences that made me a bit uneasy was “A key driver to the Premier League’s success is that it’s revenue enables member clubs to attract the world’s best players, who in turn help to boost the leagues popularity”.

But are the teams in the PL attracting the best players in the world presently?
The answer to that one is not easy for anyone to give as the term “world’s best players” is more than a little subjective as well as unclear. How many players falls into this category?
If you’ll accept the votes of the international Journalists 2009, however, the 7 best players in the world all played in Spain. These were, followed by a handful of Premiere League players (although Torres and Fabregas are both linked with a move to Spain).
The 2009 Fifa Pro World XI – a world all star team based on the votes from 50000 professional players - include 5 players from the EPL (Terry, Vidic, Evra, Gerrard, Torres) and 6 from La Liga (Casillas, Alves, Xavi, Iniesta; Ronaldo, Messi).

One can conclude that the fight to be the most attractive league in the world is a two horse race, something that is further emphasized by a “most attracting league” poll done on Fifa.com where La Liga and EPL gets 41 and 36 percent respectively (yes La Liga won the poll), followed by the German Bundesliga with a distant 13 percent.
Another way to look at it may be to see if a top-class player is working in a league outside his own country. All England players in the WC get their wages from EPL clubs whereas 4 in the Spanish team found offers from foreign clubs more pleasing – premiership clubs.
‘Nuff said about this, I think I made my point that there is hardly a solid argument for the thought that England is undisputed when it comes to attracting the best players.

To get back to the original thought – if “A key driver to success” is highly debatable, isn’t there reason to worry?

The Engish cause may recieve unexpected help from.... La Liga! La Liga seem to be in an even worse financial state than the Premiership, reducing the power of the worst competitor, at least that is what Stefan Szymanski, football economics guru at the Cass Business School said in a radio interview. He said that, with the possible exceptions of Real Madrid and Barcelona, all the teams in La Liga are in financial trouble…
All but Madrid and Barca? He must be having a laugh. Barca, the team paying the wages of 5 of the 7 top ranking players in the 2009 Ballon d’Or, revealed in may that their debt was € 489 million, and that was before signing David Villa! I thought that the general consensus, and one of the main reasons for Platini’s initiative to straighten out the finances of football clubs, was that Barca and Madrid are financially unsound.

Now there are obviously other "drivers" to PL-success. The fact that the league has established itself on many foreign markets is one. These foreign markets are so important that the EPL is tipped to soon make more money abroad than domestically.
But are these markets faithful?

We may be right back where we started - what league has the most attractive players?


Just leave (him be)

Why do the Potters keep on upping their bid for Cole?
It must mean that they feel they are getting signals from G&S that they are getting close or are they just testing our resolve? I certainly can understand the reason for Stoke to want him. He is a very good player to hoist it to when nothing else seems to work, something we did way too much when he was on the pitch last season (making him look bad in the process). That is more than likely the kind of quality Stoke needs as that situation will occur even more often with them.

I read a lot into Cole being used as a “top model” for our new away kit. Flanked by players more or less guaranteed to play for us during the next campaign (Noble, Hitz, Junior) I got lured into looking forward to see Cole get to “gel” with a striking partner with pace.
I have a feeling that, given time, Remy and Cole would make a cracking partnership. I always thought that Coles target playing capacity should be a perfect platform for releasing a pacy striker. Cole had limited success with Bellamy, Sears and Hines, but they really never got a chance to build anything, and Cole seem to need time to get used to changes in the playing environment. Most of last season Cole was played alongside strikers with, let's say, other qualities. The threat a quick striker would present would take some of the defenders off Coles back, making his job a bit easier. Last year the oppositions defenders were allowed to focus on Cole too much, again making him look bad.
Benni or Piquionne are not viable options, but if the Caraglio deals comes through so is Cole I'm afraid. But at least we are doing business in the right order, getting the replacements in before we sell the "original".


I dare you! I double dare you...?

"The situation with Parker has not changed," said Sullivan. "Villa will not have enough money to tempt us to sell Scott.

"He really is not for sale."

One wonders what Sully is out to do. But even though everything Sully has said so far, including "Everybody is for sale except Parker" tells me that we'd sell Parker if a decent bid came along, in a way this is the best feeling I've had for a while when it comes to keeping Parker.

Economics and economics alone

Now a few new citations are flying around in the Olympic stadium post 2012 discussion. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, said yesterday during a “how is it going” visit to London that

"We are keen on having an athletics track to remain and I'm confident that they will find the right solution," "We have been assured it will have an athletics track".
However, an OPLC (Olympic Park Legacy Company) official followed up on that comment by saying that

"no final decision" over whether to keep an athletics track beyond 2012 is

So what does it mean when a IOC president is “keen” on something?
Well that certainly depends on if it would affect an upcoming Olympic games per se or just what happens when the Olympic Circus has moved on.
One way to evaluate such a statement is to try to remember how many times you have seen IOC members, not from the specific country, getting involved in a discussion about what happened to a city or country after the Circus has left. Can’t remember any (bar Beijing maybe)? Me neither. No, the Circus will, as allways, move its focus toward the next Olympic Games and, as is true for any Circus manager, not worry much what the tent site looks like after they have left.

The decisions on who is going to run it after the Games and whether to keep or not to keep the tracks will be based on economics and economics alone.
If the cost/benefit analysis of taking the tracks out say they should stay, they will stay and the talk of the “Olympic Legacy” will get a last outing. If not, Sir Sebastian will have to make do with some smaller venue, maybe better suited to house the 7.500 athletics fans that will come to the annual GP show.

So what is the chances (or risk if you are so inclined) of West Ham moving there?
I’d say the chances are great that we, as I said in this post, will see the first West Ham game there in 2015. Not only on our own merits as I doubt there are any other takers with a concept that is backed by money rather than people. Money talks, and no one else should be bothered to argue with it (Coe/West Ham fans) as they have a very slim chance of winning the discussion.
In March 2011 West Ham will be revealed as the new tenants, or to be formal, there is supposed to be a decision on what the stadium will be used to and who gets to run it. Then we may also have a decision on whether the tracks will remain, but that is still something that may be changed later in the development.

Note: I'm certainly not advocating tracks at any football ground, on the contrary, but Gollivan won't care much what I or other West Ham fans say on this matter. They will be banking on that we will get over it. At least enough to go to the games.


Swiss sums it up

Well, its better to write your own stuff, but I can not restrain Bubbleview to suggest all it's readers to read another blogg as well, and the article that really wants to sum up West Ham's current economical situation.
Read Swissramble HERE.
I'm not the man to tell if everything is spot on (as a lot of the numbers are from G&S themselves), but at least most of it seems to be in accordance with the truth and is really good reading.


Between the lines

Avram has been talking as our new manager for the first times.

The latest official statements of our newly appointed manager is in line with every new manager in any team. “Happy to be here”, “relishing the challenge”, it’s a great club” etc. etc.

My favorite platitude is, however, “we want to improve”, which is a reasonable goal for a team avoiding relegation by a hairs breadth.

There are however some grains of information that may be extracted from these interviews and other official produce.
The way he talks about the squad tells us that he by no means takes for granted that there will be any significant additions to it. “If most of the players will make progress we will not need many players” is a statement meant to prepare us for the possible scenario that Hitzlsperger will be the only signing of a “proven” player this window. Or to use Grantish “someone who can play football”.
Late info/rumors points toward Barros adding his £ 5 million worth of talent to our attack but even if these rumors are wrong I guess a signing involving that kind of money may well be in the cards. As far as I can judge he can play football. With him in our books one wonders if Diamanti still will be needed? Also, Gollivan needs to show that they weren’t sh*ting us when they suggested adding additional additions. Also, one or two of the usual suspects will most likely be leaving, more than making up for the money Barros will set us back.

Grant is unusually frank about the necessity to keep Parker. On the OS he says “I can tell you that Scott Parker is important to us . He is a good football player and has quality”. While he is less optimistic about keeping Upson “We will see him when he comes back. Of course we want Matty Upson to stay at the club”.

England’s lack of success in the World Cup, and the un-applauded individual performances obviously boosted our chances to see our England internationals in claret and blue even in the upcoming season. Whether we want them to or not. I (and a few agents) was hoping for huge positive exposure for Green and Upson so we could mourn their leaving while banking some serious money. If nothing else to be able to keep Parker and Cole. On the international note, I’m sure that Parker would have been lost to us had he been given a chance to show what work rate and moral can do, also on the international scene.

Other secret messages were extractable from the release of the new away kit. Cole, Noble, Stanislas and Hitz were used as fashion plates. The odds on Stanislas, Noble and Hitzlsperger to play for us during the 10/11 campaign are pretty low, but what raised my spirits was that Cole would do a photo shoot dressed in it. I thought he would be reluctant, not only because he was afraid that those hoops that seems to have slid down from the chest to get stuck around the waist would make him look short and chubby (is this why Benni wasn’t asked?), but also because he figured he wouldn't be using it much this season. It kind of tells us that he is not in the middle of wrapping up a transfer. But then he looks a bit depressed doesn’t he? Maybe the transfer talks are not as many and as fruitful as he was hoping? But then Noble and Junior doesn’t really look too excited either in the pics on the online store. It’s all a party though when they realize that they will be offered a free high fat meal! (just go and look at the pics on the OS site if none of this makes any sense to you).

Anyone noted that Avram has been seeing a PR consultant? A bit like Tony Soprano seeing a shrink. Either that or a plastic surgeon. He is smiling like his jaws are unhinged on every picture! A smart move just the same as his trade mark sulky face seem to be the major problem people have with him.

Btw, the name of the post was chosen to lure the writer of THIS blog out of hiding.