West Ham shareholders have hit back at claims by the chairman, Terence Brown, that the club's financial future is secure, and will call for him to resign at the club's AGM next month after the Hammers announced debts of over £40m.
A large group of disgruntled businessmen with a significant shareholding in the club are gathering support for a motion of no confidence in Brown's leadership.
West Ham made pre-tax losses of £5.3m last season prior to relegation from the Premiership, and the group claims the losses will continue unless Brown, the finance director, Nick Igoe, and the managing director, Paul Aldridge, all stand down.
Mike Hanna, a spokesman for the group, said: "We want to put a question on the AGM agenda to debate the value of these people to West Ham.
"The club has made a cumulative loss over the last five years of £18.3m and we believe there needs to be a change or there will be a continuation of those losses."
West Ham sold off Joe Cole and Glen Johnson in a desperate bid to recoup those losses following relegation, yet the club revealed bank debts totalling £44.1m yesterday, £11.4m more than last year.
Brown, however, insists that West Ham will not follow the precarious lead of Leeds United, whose own record debts threaten to bankrupt the Elland Road club.
Brown said: "Those borrowings relate primarily to the building of the new West Stand and improvements to the training ground - land assets.
"You cannot have your cake and eat it. We couldn't have survived without a bigger ground. To compare our position to Leeds is to compare chalk and cheese. Financially we're closer to Arsenal than Leeds."
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