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'Got £25m to spare, boss?' The wacky world of David Sullivan


Filed: Friday, 12th July 2019
By: Paul Walker


Its been a busy old week for our co-owner David Sullivan. And we all believed he was going to take a back seat this season!

One day heís refusing to pay a transfer release clause up front. Then he finds himself implicated, but not involved, in a complicated takeover bid for floundering Bolton Wanderers. Then there is the little matter of difficult negotiations to try to bring another striker to the London Stadium.

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Where do you start? Maxi Gomez is a goner, maybe Sebastien Haller is not. But you wonder whether David Sullivan can see how the Bolton stuff looks to the ordinary punter with claims that he was prepared to lend someone £25m to fund a buy-out of this once proud Premier League club, now in administration and with an astonishing list of creditors wanting their money.

Sullivanís link with Bolton has been floating around for some while. I live in the north, so Boltonís plight is big news. How they get out of it with a club at all is of even more concern. I am not sure all this has filtered down south.

I have been told by someone close to the action at Bolton that Sullivan wanted to buy the stadium and the attached hotel from the administrators and rent it back to a consortium about to take over the club.

A well-placed journalist, Alan Nixon, has tweeted the very same thing.

Then Talksport got in on the act. Presenter Simon Jordan is supposed to have said on air that Sullivan had agreed to lend Laurence Bassini £25m to help fund a takeover. Bassini had seen one previous attempt to buy the club rejected because he could not show proof of funds.

Since then the administrators have appointed a consortium, Football Ventures, as preferred bidder. A group fronted by Sharon Brittan, Jeff Thomas and Michael James (no, me neither), but one that is believed to have former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt involved in some way.

None of this is of much interest to West Ham fans, although a few names on the clubís creditors list may well be!

Now I would think that Sullivan would have been more than happy for his involvement with Bassini to slip quietly into the background. Itís just business, isnít it?

But Talksport went one better. Jim White got hold of Bassini and produced an interview that made more than a few folk blink. As soon as the story broke, fans took to twitter and a guy on the OLAS page just about summed it up with a post: "So he can lend £25m, but not to us."

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Thatís a bit too simplistic of the world of finance, in particular football finance. But it is how the rank and file could think.

Sullivan is a sharp businessman and this looked like a deal worth doing, it has nothing to do with West Ham. And in many ways he is right; Bolton are a good deal once the administration is over and new owners move in. Sullivan was only helping a friend.

That friend, though, somewhat over-egged things with quotes to White like: "I have known David since I was a child. He called me and said, 'look Lawrence, you are going to need some help because you are getting slaughtered out there.

"'I am going to give you the money so you can go and do this. Give you £25m so you can sort yourself out'. Which he has done. He spoke to Simon Jordan and he was shocked that heíd done it. "David is not going to be involved with the club, he will help with assets as he has helped me before with things.

ďHe will be repaid in full. Heís not even concerned about that". All this is in print on the TalkSport website. Not surprisingly, it has upset Boltonís administrators, David Rubin and Partners, with what sounds like some exasperation.

Their official statement was on the club website very quickly. It said: "We note with dismay the interview given by Lawrence Bassini to TalkSport this morning.

"The simple fact is that, for several reasons, Mr.Bassini was not the successful bidder under the process we have carried out to sell Bolton Wanderers. His bid was not the best for the club. He was not able to satisfy either the proof of source of funding to the satisfaction of the process or within the proscribed time frame. That remains the case."

Now the good bit. "Subsequently Mr Bassini has sent a vast number of erratic and threatening emails and text messages, as well as making threatening calls, to the point where we have instructed lawyers to deal with them. We will be making no further comment about Mr Bassini or his claim."

I am sure David Sullivan feels like he didnít need any of that as he turned his attention to trying to sign a new striker for Manuel Pellegrini.

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I must admit, I had intended writing a piece about the tight financial ship that he runs at West Ham. It gets plenty of stick from fans but if you look at the Bolton basket case, it is so easy to go in the wrong direction if the spending gets out of hand. Some folk feel fans should be careful what they wish for.

Sullivan wasnít prepared to shell out all of the £45m release clause for Maxi Gomez in one go, even if La Liga rules said West Ham had to deposit all of the money up front with them. His decision, heís the boss.

Then he turned his attention to Haller, as Jordon is supposed to have said on air: "David didnít have time to talk, he was trying to sign a striker". Get that done Mr. Chairman and Bolton will slip away quietly into the background.

This club was in a real mess. Secured creditors included former owner Ken Anderson, who took them into administration and wants £7.5m. The estate of former owner Eddie Davies, the man who bankrolled Sam Allardyce, wants £10m. Former chairman Brett Warburton is asking for £3m.

Football creditor debts (these have to be paid) show £2.7m of unpaid wages to staff. Everyone else, and thereís a lot, gets 35p in the pound.

The list is horrific, and includes Unique Sports Management, the agents West Ham deal substantially with. They are owed £98,036, which they wonít see much of. Stellar group (who are also Gomezís agents) are chasing £371,288.

The list gets worse. Paul Aldridge, the former West Ham MD who left following the sale of the club to the Icelandics and a former Bolton club consultant is owed £169,800, while a company associated with Andersonís son, Lee, is owed £45,000.

Greater Manchester Police, St. Johns Ambulance, the charity looking after Fabrice Muamba, the clubís own community trust, HMRC, Bolton Council are all wanting money, and are unlikely to get much if any of it.

I list all this because it shows how a big club, and a famous one at that, can go downhill very quickly. You may feel that, for all the faults West Ham fans see in Sullivan, something like this will not happen under his stewardship. Now just go out and buy us a next level striker!


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







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