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Sullivan moves to calm fears over Hammers' debt

David Sullivan is not at breaking point trying to control West Ham's near £100 million debts nor has he lost faith in Avram Grant with his team rooted at the foot of the table without a single point.

• Report: West Ham 1-3 Chelsea
• Grant living on borrowed time
• Premier League: Blues press on

The Hammers are hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with stories circulating of huge debts and speculation their under pressure manager will shortly be sacked. But the club's co-owner Sullivan gave an exclusive interview on Sunday to ESPNsoccernet to put the record straight.

"All of my remarks about the finances have come straight out of my programme notes, but at no point did I say I was at breaking point and I don't see it as an outburst, just being honest with supporters," Sullivan told ESPNsoccernet.

"I would like to stress that I'm not at breaking point, and that I just like to be honest with supporters."

Co-owners Sullivan and David Gold inherited debts of £110 million when they took control last January, and if anything they have put austerity measures in place that have brought the debt down.

Sullivan added: "Debts in reality probably are now £90 million to £95 million. We bought £7 million to £8 million worth of players in the summer, but of course transfers are paid in installments and that amount will be paid over several years, but with up front payments debts rose a bit, but remain at £90 million to £95 million now.

"I did say the debt was £100 million in my programme notes, as it's a round figure. In reality the debt goes up and down all the time as money comes in and goes out."

However, Sullivan did confess in his programme notes that it will take time to turn West Ham into a Premier League force.

Scott Parker signed a new contract five-year contract worth £70,000-a-week, as ESPNsoccernet revealed on Friday, but Sullivan knows that wages cannot be sustained within football, not just at a club with huge debts like West Ham.

Sullivan said in his programme notes: "We have brought in eight new players to balance Avram Grant's squad, as well as hanging on to our star names. We missed out on a number of targets, mainly due to the impossible demands of players, clubs or agents. This was a big factor in why I have been working 16-18 hour days for the last three months.

"On my eight-day famiily holiday I was talking to players and agents non-stop. So much so that my family were hardly talking to me at the end. My sons were in tears of frustration with me being on the phone rather than spending time with them.

"My mobile phone bill was £2,000 for eight days and I paid that myself. It is the most difficult task trying to keep the club afloat. In line with my partner David Gold neither of us has ever drawn a penny in wages, management fees or even expenses and it is never our intention to do so.

"We have £50 million of bank loans and £50 million of other debts. With the help of our bankers we will keep the club afloat, but please realise it will take years to take West Ham where we want them to be. Every day we are being hit with enormous bills run up by the previous regime.

"For example an agent says he is owed £50,000 for arranging a pre-season friendly against Napoli last year on a match that lost the club £70,000. The appearance money against Oxford was £45,000 plus £9,000 in win bonuses. Our cut of the gate was £65,000, so we ended up making £11,000. No-one can blame the players for accepting over-generous contracts the previous regime offered them."

The Hammers are still rooted to the foot of the table without a point having suffered defeat by a relentless Chelsea team.

But Sullivan refuses to be despondent, as he told ESPNsoccernet: "In reality the game was a lot closer than the score suggests. We had an offside goal disallowed, hit the crossbar from three yards, and so it went on. Their second goal was a freak.

"The highlights on Match of the Day did not reflect the game at all. We dominated for large sections of the game, notably late in first half and second half. I was very satisfied with Saturday's performance, the team is improving game by game and I'm very confident that results will improve shortly."


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