Sunday, 14 September 2008


In 2006 a consortium led by Kia Joorabchian sought to take over West Ham.

Joorabchian was quoted as saying the following:

"I believe in the very near future West Ham can become bigger than Chelsea and maybe within seven years even challenge Manchester United....there is massive potential at West Ham. Why? Because the club has such passionate supporters and a fantastic history. As far as I am concerned they have got a much bigger worldwide fanbase than Chelsea."

"That goes back to part of the history of the club - having three World Cup winners in Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters."

"And what is so impressive is when they have hit bad times the passion and loyalty of the fans has seen them stick by the club."

"Passion is a vital word in the success of a football club. Sometimes when I look at Chelsea despite their recent success I think it's all a bit cold. They talk more about the brand than the football club".



London is one of the world's principal cities, with a metropolitan population of 13 million. London hosts five Premier League football clubs: two in west London (Chelsea and Fulham), two in north London (Arsenal and Spurs), and just one, West Ham, in east London.

By comparison, Manchester has a metropolitan population of 4 million. Manchester hosts 4 Premier League football clubs: Manchester United, Manchester City, Wigan and Bolton. Liverpool has a metropolitan population of just 1 million. Liverpool hosts two Premier League football clubs: Liverpool and Everton. Newcastle has a metropolitan population of less than 1 million. Newcastle has one Premier League football club: Newcastle United.

The real secret of London over the last and future decades is this: the trend towards east London: Canary Wharf becoming the Manhattan of Europe, the Thames Estuary Airport replacing Heathrow, the 2012 Olympics coming to Stratford, the high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and and the development of the Thames Gateway region to accommodate UK population expansion.


Due to the bombing of the east end of London during World War II, east London has a significant diaspora population. The English counties of Essex and Kent (combined population: 3.3 million) comprise large "Eastender" populations. Due to the strong communal identity of east Londoners and their descendents, West Ham is strongly supported throughout the country, wherever the descendents of east Londoners settled.

Accordingly, West Ham draws active core support not only from the millions who live in east London but also from several millions of cockney descendents in the surrounding counties and beyond.

The reputed largest ever attendance in global football history was for the first FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1923, when more than 250,000 people, mostly eastenders, watched West Ham play Bolton.


Population growth in the UK has prompted planning for major new town development. The overwhelming majority of this growth will take place in the south-east, and more particularly in the Thames Gateway region, stretching from East London out through Essex. This is West Ham's natural catchment. Several hundred thousand new homes are planned.

The population and business development of the Thames Gateway region will be compounded if, as now seems possible, London's new flagship airport is commissioned for the Thames estuary region east of London. This £50 billion proposal is intended to replace west London's Heathrow airport and is likely to catalyse enormous new investment into east London and the south Essex/ north Kent area; as a part of the general trend of population and capital flow eastwards across London.


Average employment and salaries are far higher in London than in northern cities such as Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool. Ticket prices are higher in London and fans have more disposable income for sundries.


If West Ham moves into the 2012 Olympic Stadium, it will open up the possibility of tapping into significant new support. Transport links at Stratford will offer easy access from the Arsenal and Spurs catchment areas (the latter of which would face significant regulatory and political resistance to any proposed move into West Ham's traditional catchment) and along the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through the new towns of Kent, into continental Europe. The journey time to the stadium from Paris would be less than two hours.


The current population profile of London is 40% immigrant. It is fertile ground for an upwardly mobile club to attract and consolidate market share.


Commercial and hospitality income opportunities in other cities are miniscule compared with the commercial and hospitality opportunities offered by London. West Ham is located closer than any other London club to the two major business and financial districts: Canary Wharf and the Square Mile.


Google AdWords reports that the average monthly keyword search volume for London is 83 million. This compares with 11 million for Manchester, 7 million for Liverpool and 4 million for Newcastle.

Tourism interest in London is similarly several multiples higher than for other English cities.


West Ham is the most proximate Premier League club to Canary Wharf and the City of London.

With a new stadium in the Olympic Park development area, the offices and residential apartments of Canary Wharf and the Square Mile will be just a five minute drive or only three tube stops away.

In fact, there are barely 5,000 metres between West Ham tube station and Canary Wharf tube station which serves top banks, law firms, media companies and other entities such as HSBC, Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Reuters, The Daily Telegraph, the Financial Services Authority, Infosys and Credit Suisse.

Canary Wharf is continuing to grow - JP Morgan is preparing to establish its new £1.5 billion European headquarters at Canary Wharf Riverside, and there are numerous skyscrapers at the planning stage. The closest comparison for Canary Wharf's transformation is Manhattan.

West Ham is THE football club of Canary Wharf and the City of London. Unlike Spurs, West Ham United is a genuine inner London team and unlike Chelsea, West Ham is rooted in a highly concentrated urban area.

West Ham offers huge commercial opportunities: as a blue riband investment - "The City of London's team" - in matchday corporate hospitality income - in major sponsorship opportunities - and by developing ancillary hotel and hospitality interests.


Boris Johnson, London's mayor, has indicated that he wishes for a football club to take over ownership of London's 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London once the games are over. West Ham United is the local football club - West Ham tube station is one stop from Stratford.

The effect of West Ham taking up residency in the Olympic stadium will be enormous. David Dein, the former Arsenal director, has said that the prospect of West Ham in the Olympic Stadium "frightens him to death". Dein understands that the only thing that has historically held West Ham back from emerging as a "superclub" has been the parochial attitude of successive boards, an inadequate stadium and undercapitalisation. The club's support, its brand and its ability to compete in the Arsenal catchment is undoubted.

West Ham is the only football club whose move into the Olympic Stadium can be assured of gaining the requisite political consent. Stratford is firmly in the West Ham catchment area, and a long way from the traditional catchment of other football clubs. Were Spurs to propose moving into Stratford, there is a high chance of virulent local opposition, by the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, who has consistently championed West Ham's move there, and by other political authorities. There is currently rising concern in the UK about the way the traditions of the Premier League are being commercially transformed, and resistance to unwelcome change would be a populist stance. When Chelsea proposed alternative sites outside their traditional catchment within the last eighteen months, the football regulatory and political authorities did not react favourably.

In due course, with sufficient investment in the team, it is estimated that West Ham would routinely fill the Olympic Stadium. With player investment, it is likely that a 50,000 attendance could be achieved within 18 months of moving in, and between 60,000 and 90,000 within 5 years, provided tickets are strategically priced.

Stratford itself has outstanding transport links. Fans would find it infinitely easier to access the club from north London, south London, Essex, Kent and the continent, via the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the new Stratford International Railway Station.

The enthusiasm of the London Mayoralty and the LDA to bring the 2012 Olympics within budget offers an opportunity to an investor in West Ham United and the Olympic Stadium to negotiate corollary development concessions from the Olympic Park development area down through the East London development zone to the doorstep of Canary Wharf financial district.

The cachet of owning not just the City of London's football team but also the Olympic football team - is undoubted: a unique calling card par excellence.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


West Ham is known as "The Academy of Football".

"The biggest single contributor to the current England national squad is not Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, but the West Ham Youth Academy." -- ITV Football article, 13 September 2004.

*These home-grown players have commanded total transfer fees in excess of £110 million:

Joe Cole (West Ham Academy graduate, current England international)
Rio Ferdinand (West Ham Academy graduate, current England international)
Frank Lampard (West Ham Academy graduate, curent England international)
Michael Carrick (West Ham Academy graduate, current England international)
Jermain Defoe (West Ham Academy graduate, current England international)
Glen Johnson (West Ham Academy graduate, current England international)

East London produces the majority of England's top footballers. Youth policy regulations restrict clubs to nurturing talent that resides within a certain distance, hence West Ham enjoys its pick from the most potent football seedbed in the UK. 

Some other England international players born within a short distance of the club:

David Beckham (born Leytonstone, East London; former England team captain)
John Terry (born Barking, East London; current England team captain)
Sol Campbell (born Newham, East London)
Ashley Cole (born Stepney, East London)
Tony Adams (born Romford, East London
Paul Ince (West Ham Academy graduate, born Ilford, East London)


Before Chelsea began receiving external financial injections in 1994, West Ham's average league attendance had been larger than Chelsea's average league attendance in the majority of the previous 15 seasons:

1981: +8,243   (figure by which West Ham's average attendance exceeded Chelsea's)
1982: +13,453
1983: +10,150
1984: +266
1987: +2,914
1989: +4,786
1991: +1,747
1992: +2,507
1994: +1,384


Hitwise, the leading online competitive intelligence service, published a survey on August 8th 2007 which confirmed that West Ham United's Official Club Website attracts more online interest in the UK than the websites of Chelsea, Everton or Aston Villa.  

West Ham's official website attracts the same amount of online interest as that of Manchester City and is similar to that of Newcastle United.


West Ham attracts a lot of media attention. East London is a fertile source of journalists, actors, film-makers and writers.

Some recent major motion pictures featuring West Ham include Green Street, starring The Lord Of The Rings' Elijah Wood (right) as an American student who visits London and becomes a West Ham fan. Both Gary Oldman and Sean Bean have portrayed West Ham fans on celluloid, in The Firm and Essex Boys, respectively. Other movies about West Ham include Rise of the Foot Soldier and Cass.

West Ham is the only football club referred to in the Harry Potter series of books. The club is repeatedly referred to as the team supported by one of Harry's friends:

"Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean's poster of West Ham football team, trying to make the players move" (book 1, chapter 9)

It is estimated that the marketing potential of Elijah Wood's Green Street character and the Harry Potter character Dean Thomas could facilitate significant brand penetration in Asia and the Americas.

High profile West Ham fans include Russell Brand, the host of the US MTV awards who writes a weekly column about the club in the Guardian newspaper. Brand routinely encourages Hollywood celebrities to wear West Ham United shirts. Known Hollywood fans of the club include Matt Damon, Nicolas Cage, Rob Schneider, Adam Sandler, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, Macauley Culkin and John Cleese.

West Ham's most famous fan at the moment is no less than new US President Barack Obama, whose Kent-based English relatives ignited his interest in the club:


West Ham's romantic tradition and famous brand is second to none in the footballing world. The club is known as the "Academy of Football" and is renowned as the first English club to have imported "Hungarian-style" attractive football.  

At the same time, the Hammers remain one of England's true working class teams. Which other club's manager would take the FA Cup home on the tube! (Ron Greenwood, right, after the 1964 FA Cup final). 

The club has unique brand differentiation:

1895: Arnold Hills, President of the London Vegetarian Society, takes advice from his fellow executive board member Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi, to consider the holistic needs of workers at his Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Company.  Thames Ironworks FC is born, and five years later is renamed West Ham United.

1900: Upton Park FC, a now-defunct, West Ham based forerunner of football in the east end, whose fans and players migrate in due course to West Ham United, wins the Olympic Football Gold Medal representing Great Britain at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

1904: West Ham United move to the Boleyn Stadium in Upton Park, where they have played the last 104 seasons. The stadium is named after Queen Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's unfortunate second wife, who lived in the vicinity during the 16th century.

1923: West Ham United contest the first ever FA Cup Final at Wembley. Legendary as the White Horse Final, more than 250,000 Eastenders march arm-in-arm from East London to Wembley, singing the veterans' hymn from the First World War, "Abide With Me". The song is now officially sung at each FA Cup final.

1920s: Football's oldest club song is born. "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", an American music hall song, is adopted by West Ham fans to serenade a player who resembles the baby from a Pears Soap radio advertisement. The song speaks to idealism, hope, dreams and mortality. It becomes the romantic anthem of the East End of London. It is sung to this day, at every match West Ham play. You can listen to it here, as sung by the 1975 FA Cup final squad:

1938: A Jewish footballer from West Ham, Len Goulden, scores what Stanley Matthews described as "the greatest goal I ever saw in football" for the England national team against Nazi Germany, in front of 110,000 German fans including Hermann Goering and Josef Goebbels. It has been described as English football's "Jesse Owens" moment.

1939-45: West Ham win the War Cup. The club's stadium is badly damaged by the German Blitz, which ravages the East End of London.

1960s: Ted Fenton and Ron Greenwood create "The Academy", a youth and team development programme that seeks to instill Hungarian footballing values in the footballers of the East End. West Ham's reputation for attractive football is born.

1964: Bobby Moore, captain of West Ham, lifts the FA Cup at Wembley.

1965: Bobby Moore, captain of West Ham, lifts the European Cup Winners Cup at Wembley.

1966: Bobby Moore, captain of West Ham & England, lifts the World Cup at Wembley. 

Of England's 4 goals in the World Cup Final, 3 are scored by Geoff Hurst (West Ham) and the other goal is scored by Martin Peters (West Ham).

1975 & 1980: West Ham win the FA Cup again.

1986: A unique feat: West Ham's captain and centre back, England international Alvin Martin, scores a hat-trick - against three different goalkeepers!  during the course of a season in which West Ham finish just 4 points away from winning the national championship. The second most famous hat-trick in Hammers history - after Geoff Hurst's hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final.

1980s & 1990s: West Ham produce a stream of England's elite footballers, including Trevor Brooking, Tony Cottee, Paul Ince, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson.

2006: Having participated in the 1923 White Horse Final (see above), described as "the 
most famous domestic final of all time", West Ham now participate in what is described as "arguably the greatest FA Cup final" - an exhilarating 3-3 draw with Liverpool.

Friday, 12 September 2008


West Ham is currently 100% privately owned by interests of Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, an Icelandic banker.

Taking over West Ham United would be a far easier proposition than attempting to take over a football club owned by a public company or a private company with splintered ownership.

Points of interest:

It is well known that West Ham is England's most traditional club: until the late 1980s the club had only employed five managers in its entire history. Indeed, until Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson bought the club in 2006 the board of directors remained composed of Arnold Hills' descendents.

In 2002, the club effected a share buyback to clear the ownership roll of numerous shareholders who had died, unrecorded, during the Blitz of East London during the Second World War. After purchasing the 5% stake of his fellow purchaser, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson became, in 2007, the first sole owner of West Ham United since its earliest founding years.

UPDATE 07/10/08: with the collapse of the Icelandic economy and the nationalisation of Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's bank Landsbanki, the prospect of a sale has drawn much closer. If rumours are true that the club is owned by an implicated investment banking asset of Gudmundsson rather than personally, West Ham could be sold within a matter of days as the Icelandic government instructs its domestic banking sector to liquidate foreign holdings.


West Ham's club badge depicts a pair of crossed hammers, representing the club's origins as the Thames Ironworks workers' team. The Ironworks built warships such as HMS Duncan, HMS Cornwallis, HMS Thunderer and HMS Sans Pareil. Thus the provenance of West Ham's nicknames, the Hammers (to outsiders) and the Irons (to the club's passionate fans).

The castle featured in the badge alludes to the Boleyn Castle, a local residence of Anne Boleyn, or to Old Castle Swifts, another forerunner of the club - or possibly both.

The club's famous claret and light blue colours derive from the house colours of Arnold Hills' Thames Ironworks. Legend has it that West Ham's first claret and blue kit was in fact stolen from Aston Villa! A West Ham player who was a sprinter of national repute was challenged to a race by four Aston Villa players and won. The Villa players were unable to settle the wager and so one of them, who had responsibility for washing the players' kit, handed over a complete set, subsequently reporting the items 'missing'. 

West Ham is of course the club of London's famous "East End".  The East End is the oldest and most colourful part of London. Geoffrey Chaucer lived in Aldgate during the 14th century and wrote of "stratford-atte-bow" in The Canterbury Tales. William Shakespeare (a one-time resident of Bishopsgate) and Ben Jonson lived and wrote about the East End, as did Samuel Pepys and Captain Cook. Several books by Charles Dickens such as Oliver Twist, are set in the area. The East End has long been the most dynamic and fertile area of Britain's capital: from the cockney workers oft-immortalised on stage and screen; to the waves of immigrants landing at East London's docks: Huguenot, Irish, Jewish, Chinese and Indian. 

From the music halls to the boxing clubs the East End has a diverse history, from the founding of the Salvation Army and the Suffragette movement, to the casting of the Liberty Bell that rang in the US Declaration of Independence; from the Whitechapel meetings of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, to Jack the Ripper, the rise of the famous Brick Lane, and nowadays, the well-known British soap opera EastEnders. Today, the East End is at the heart of London's creative arts and is a home to financial workers, cockneys and immigrants alike.  No other place in Britain is as legendary across the world or captures the imagination as vividly as London's famous East End. 


"In the summer of 1895, when the clanging of "hammers" was heard on the banks of Father Thames and the great warships were rearing their heads above the Victoria Dock Road, a few enthusiasts, with the love of football within them, were talking about the grand old game and the formation of a club for the workers of the Thames Iron Works Limited. There were platers and riveters in the Limited who had chased the big ball in the north country. There were men among them who had learned to give the subtle pass and to urge the leather goalwards. No thought of professionalism, I may say, was ever contemplated by the founders. They meant to run their club on amateur lines and their first principle was to choose their team from men in the works."