Am I the only footie fan who felt more than a little uneasy at the latest pronouncement from West Ham co-owner, David Sullivan?
On the eve of winning the bidding war to inherit the Olympic Stadium against rivals Spurs, porn magnate Sullivan delivered a Churchillian-type speech, stating that giving the stadium to West Ham would be a “principled decision”, which would “enhance Britain’s integrity world-wide”.
This was “about honouring a promise in the Queen’s name,” Sullivan told the London Standard.
While there’s no doubting Sullivan’s commitment to West Ham, I wouldn’t normally associate him or the Hammer’s co-owner, David Gold, who also made his fortune from porn, with such high ideals, because the cynic in me knows that Sullivan (and Gold) will say whatever it takes to get the deal done.
Only two weeks ago the Sullivan-Gold duo hung Hammers’ manager Avram Grant out to dry and in the most public and humiliating manner, before being forced into a highly embarrassing u-turn. They did it again when they sacked Grant’s predecessor, Zola, allowing weeks of speculation about the future of the much-respected Italian to run unchallenged , piling insult on indignity.
And this from a man preaching to us all about ‘integrity’, the importance of taking a ‘principled decision’ and about ‘honouring a promise’?
The truth is that like most owners and the majority of people earning a crust from professional football – and I suspect that West Ham are no better or worse than most- all that matters is winning, on or off the pitch. It’s about egos, about being top of the pile and, above all, making money.
Principles,’ yer havin’ a larf ain’t ya?’
The game is unquestionably littered with acts of unprincipled behaviour which in any other walk of life would be outlawed. But in football, it seems, anything goes – as long as the team wins.
As fans, does it matter how the owners of our great clubs behave? I’d be interested to hear your views.
By Steve Knightly – Brentford fan