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May 2, 2011

Hammers owners defend no-show

West Ham United owners David Sullivan and David Gold have tried to deflect criticism of their non-attendance of their team's defeat at Manchester City by donating the cost of the private jet that would have flown them to Eastlands to a charity for terminally ill children. • Jolly: Grant's vision becoming blurred Co-owner Sullivan has explained in graphic detail the reasons behind the decision for himself, Gold and chief executive Karren Brady to miss the trip, a defeat that may prove catastrophic to the Hammers' fight against relegation. Sullivan made an impassioned plea to ESPNsoccernet to explain their absence in the face of criticism from certain sections. He said: "We would never miss a home game, however we do not think missing an away game that's on TV over a bank holiday weekend is significant. I doubt any chairman has missed fewer league games than myself and David Gold over the last 20 years." "Watching our poor away performances week after week, and not having the ability to influence things, has impacted on us," Sullivan admitted. "My family think I'm mad devoting so much time and money to the club, and as the match was on TV, I decided to watch it on TV. "We couldn't influence the result, so we donated the cost of a private plane to a charity for terminally ill children, we thought that would do more good. Had it not been on TV we would have been there." Since taking over at West Ham in January 2010, Sullivan and Gold have reduced the debt they inherited and are prepared to fill the black hole of £40 million losses from their own pockets if the club are relegated. Sullivan added: "None of us draw any salary or expenses from West Ham United. We are not £20,000 to £60,000-a-week footballers. We only took 1,100 supporters yesterday, like us the bulk of the West Ham United supporters preferred to watch it on TV. We'll be at Wigan as will 4,500 supporters." West Ham face three games to save their season, starting with Blackburn on Saturday.

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