West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has warned relegation from the Premier League would cost him and David Gold up to £40 million of their own money to keep the debt-riddled club afloat.
Avram Grant's men have just two matches left to save their season - away at second-bottom Wigan and then at home to Sunderland - but are four points adrift of safety after Wolves beat West Brom.
The Hammers are odds on to go down and Sullivan admits seeing the club lose their top-flight status would be a difficult burden to bear, both emotionally and financially.
''The fans should know though this club is in a worse financial position than any other in the country,'' Sullivan told the London Evening Standard. ''All the debts are football or bank debts secures on the stadium and training ground, so there is no route via administration.
''West Ham really is a club where the football and bank debts exceed the value of the club. It's a pretty thankless task and the criticism hurts. Should the worst happen, we will have to inject loans of £20-£40million, depending on circumstances, which will probably never be repaid.
''I don't believe the supporters realise the potential real cost to us. Nobody out there wants to take on the burden of West Ham United. We do, as we are supporters but our resources don't match foreign-based oligarchs who pay no UK tax.''
Sullivan and Gold experienced plenty of highs and lows during their 16 years in charge of Birmingham City, but given their personal ties to West Ham, the current plight is an emotional rollercoaster.
''We are not down yet, but I admit it is not looking good,'' Sullivan added. ''I have been relegated three times before, on every occasion gaining automatic promotion the following season, but this one will hurt me the most if it happens.
''David and I have taken criticism and, should we be relegated, will accept the responsibility.''