West Ham spending failing to heal the wounds of Boleyn departure - Kaveh Solhekol, The Insider

West Ham United co-owners David Sullivan (right) and David Gold pictured during an FA Cup match in 2018
Image: West Ham United supporters have been protesting against David Gold (left) and David Sullivan (right)

In his latest weekly column, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol gives his thoughts on the West Ham ownership, UEFA officials keeping a low profile, Jack Wilshere and much more...

All bad at West Ham?

David Sullivan always likes to get everywhere early.

A few years ago the West Ham co-owner was invited to dinner in Hampstead and as usual he got there with plenty of time to spare.

He asked his driver to drop him off on the high street and he went for a walk.

The first shop he went into was a large bookstore which he thought looked familiar. Once he looked inside he remembered he owned the building.

Next he went into the Hampstead branch of a well-known pharmacy. He looked around and remembered he owned that building too.

Pretty soon he got back into his car and was driven off to the dinner party.

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That story always comes to mind when Sullivan is accused of trying to make money out of co-owning West Ham.

Sullivan is 71 and he is worth more than £1 billion.

Most of his wealth now comes from property, which has always been a safer and easier way to make money than owning a football club.

Sullivan is human and the personal nature of some of the protests against him, David Gold and Karren Brady hurt him and his family.

That is not to say that West Ham fans should not be protesting. They have every right to express how they feel about how their club is being run.

I am not a West Ham fan but I started going to games at Upton Park in the 1980s and with the benefit of hindsight I think it was a mistake to leave all that history behind and move to the London Stadium.

West Ham
Image: West Ham moved to the London Stadium in 2016

Last May I spent a day around Upton Park making a short film about what has happened to the area since West Ham left.

It was sad talking to the local businesses who are trying to survive and poignant to see a mural of Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking in front of 800 apartments where the old ground used to be.

Not everything about the old ground was perfect. I remember being too small to see the pitch from the terraces and being attacked by a policeman on the walk back to Upton Park station.

Having said all that I would still prefer to watch a game at Upton Park rather than the London Stadium.

As I said though, I am not a West Ham fan and you cannot turn back time.

Some excellent articles have been written recently articulating the anger and dismay some West Ham fans feel.

David Moyes
Image: David Moyes was hired as West Ham manager in December after the club sacked Manuel Pellegrini

There is another side to every story though and the club have no problem with criticism as long as it is balanced.

Unlike many of the owners of other Premier League clubs, Sullivan and Gold choose to live in the UK and pay tax here.

They have put more than £100m into the club and expect to put in at least another £30m this summer.

Apart from interest on loans, they have taken no money out of the club. Running West Ham is a full-time job for Sullivan. He is paid nothing and does not charge the club expenses.

His son Jack runs the West Ham women's team without getting paid a salary or expenses either.

West Ham's net spend on players in the past four years is £250m and Sullivan oversaw and helped finance the signings of Jarrod Bowen, Thomas Soucek and Darren Randolph in January.

Jarrod Bowen signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham
Image: Jarrod Bowen signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham

People like me miss going to games at Upton Park but there are thousands of kids now paying just £99 for their season tickets and home attendances have almost doubled.

There are 54,000 season ticket holders and the cheapest season tickets are just £320.

West Ham have broken their transfer record in each of the past four summer transfer windows and £28m will have been spent regenerating the local community by the end of next year.

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West Ham is not for sale but unless long-term results improve, you can see the owners selling up and moving on.

As I said though I am not a West Ham fan and my opinion on what has been going wrong is not worth as much as the opinions of the fans who go and watch the team every week.

All I know is that the personal abuse hurts the owners.

Sullivan is not a clown or a thief. If all he was interested in was making money he wouldn't have bought a football club. He would have bought another shop on Hampstead High Street.

I was there - a Ramos red

When I was a kid I always dreamed of going to grounds I saw on TV.

Years later I got to go to Wembley, Villa Park, Highbury, Anfield, Old Trafford and all the other great old stadiums.

Since then working as a football reporter has taken me to title deciders, relegation six-pointers, World Cup finals and Champions League finals.

I have seen some great players and some amazing games in that time but one thing I had never seen was Sergio Ramos being sent off.

It had happened 25 times and I have never been there.

Sergio Ramos
Image: Sergio Ramos was sent off for the 26th time in his career against Manchester City

So, a big thank you to Sergio for seeing red against Manchester City in Madrid last Wednesday.

I was there and that is one more crossed off my bucket list.

UEFA play safe with no logo

It was noticeable last Wednesday at Real Madrid vs Manchester City that no one from UEFA was wearing anything with their logo on it.

Usually at Champions and Europa League games everyone working for UEFA wears their official suits with the UEFA logo on the breast pocket.

Not at the Bernabeu last week though. UEFA were so concerned about a possible backlash from Manchester City fans angered by their European ban that they ordered their employees to wear non-branded outfits.

Manchester City have been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons by Uefa
Image: Manchester City have been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons by UEFA

I can see where UEFA were coming from.

Four years ago I was working at the Europa League final in Basel between Sevilla and Liverpool when I was set upon by a group of Spanish supporters.

I was wearing a suit and tie, an earpiece and an official lanyard.

The Sevilla fans had just been kettled by the Swiss police and they thought I was responsible because I was dressed like a UEFA official.

My Spanish is non-existent and I was saved from an ugly situation by a group of Liverpool supporters who explained to their counterparts that I worked for Sky.

The moral of the story is don't go to a Champions League game wearing a suit and tie - unless you're a manager.

Invincibles with Watford to thank

Arsenal fans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Saturday after Watford beat Liverpool 3-0.

That shock result meant Arsenal and Preston North End would remain as the only English teams who have avoided defeat for a whole top-flight season.

Champagne corks popped in Manchester and the blue parts of Merseyside as Liverpool's rivals celebrated their defeat at Vicarage Road.

Ismaila Sarr celebrates after he scores his second goal of the game
Image: Watford ended Liverpool's hopes of going the Premier League season undefeated

Liverpool will have the last laugh though because they are set to win their first title for 30 years and are still in the Champions League.

You could also argue that what this Liverpool side is doing is even more impressive than the Arsenal Invincibles.

That Arsenal side had 21 wins and 70 points after 28 games.

This Liverpool side has five more wins and nine more points.

Jack back training

Some good news finally for Jack Wilshere.

The West Ham midfielder has started training outdoors again and he is on course to play again before the end of the season.

Wilshere has had injury problems throughout his career and he has played only 16 times since moving to West Ham from Arsenal on a free transfer in 2018.

Jack Wilshere is a doubt for the game against Newcastle
Image: Jack Wilshere is back in training for West Ham

He missed most of last season with an ankle injury and he had to have a hernia operation in January.

West Ham manager David Moyes is hopeful Wilshere will be back soon to help the club avoid relegation.

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