Promotion tied up for West Ham, now Sam Allardyce wants Olympic Stadium
Blackpool 1 West Ham 2
For Mark Noble it was the perfect start to his stag week and for Sam Allardyce it made up for missing out on a trip to Las Vegas, but for David Gold West Ham's play-off victory on Saturday was priceless. Pressed, the joint-chairman put a figure on what success was worth to himself and co-owner David Sullivan. "It would have cost [us] probably around another £30m. If you own 150 oil wells then it's no problem. If you own 150 Ann Summers shops..."
That £30m would not have been enough to hold on to players like Rob Green and Carlton Cole either – not with Financial Fair Play due to be adopted in the Championship, a prospect that Allardyce said would have forced the club to slash the wage bill. Instead the manager can look forward to a return to the top flight with a team that looks well equipped to survive, Gold and Sullivan being prepared to invest to maintain Premier League status while they wait for the opportunity to move into the Olympic Stadium.
"I would like to see the stadium tied up as quickly as possible," said Allardyce. "I just feel it's an un-believable stadium for the football club to move in there. I know a lot of diehard West Ham fans would like to stay where we are but, believe you me, the way forward is to go to a venue like that. It would be like playing at Wembley every week. The atmosphere would be electric as long as it gets converted the right way."
Allardyce had booked a trip to Vegas to watch Amir Khan's world-title re-match with Lamont Peterson. The fight was called off and so, after West Ham's failure to secure automatic promotion, was Allardyce's trip. His wife, daughter and grandson went, though.
"They're eight hours behind so they're having a drop of pink champagne with their breakfast, I'm glad to say," said Allardyce. "If they hadn't gone I'd have forfeited the whole lot of the money I'd splashed out to get them there. My wife's probably better off out of the way anyway; she doesn't do nerves very well after a long period of watching me as a manager."
There was relief, too, for the soon-to-be Mrs Carly Noble, whose wedding to schoolboy sweetheart Mark on Friday would have had something of a cloud hanging over it had West Ham lost. Noble, and team-mate James Tomkins, flew off to join the stag party in Dubai.
"The medal is going with me," he said. "I made a deal with my little cousin James that if we won he had to wear it the whole five days. It would have been a sour note flying out there being on the losing team, and the same with the wedding."
There was a sour note to Blackpool's defeat, with Ian Holloway having a screaming row with doping-control officials after the match, then renewing his ongoing struggle for funds with his chairman, Karl Oyston.
Dave Jones, a loser here with Cardiff two years ago (against Blackpool), made the point in the match programme that as a manager "you have to choose your words carefully [when talking to the team post-match] because it can have an effect when the players come back."
Holloway had similar thoughts as he tried to gather his squad together "to tell them how proud I am of them", only to find Kevin Phillips and Barry Ferguson whisked away for drug tests.
"Don't give me that bullshit," he screamed. "Your rules are just so much bullshit. Use your discretion. I want all my players in one room – now!"
Eventually he got them. Then he turned to Oyston, and the summer negotiations on wages and transfers.
"I'm almost not looking forward to those chats because he gets on his high horse and starts bellowing about, 'They're all wrong, everybody pays more than they should'," said Holloway. "But I'm not here to break the bank, I'm here to add to things.
"I think he should know what I can do now. As an investment for his football club, I almost got him another £90m. Before I came here, his dad [Blackpool's majority owner, Owen Oyston, who was paid £11m by the club last season for being a director] was worth £105m, now it's £200-215m. I need to talk to my chairman about how we're going to keep building. It's really important he actually understands where I believe we can go. I don't think he realises how football is."
Holloway will now go on holiday to Italy, where his break may well be interrupted by inquiries from clubs interested in his services, such as Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers.
The gulf in resources showed. While Holloway had to field the 38-year-old Phillips in an ill-suited front-running role, after Gary Taylor-Fletcher was ruled out injured, Allardyce could leave the £2m January signing Nicky Maynard on the bench. Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te led the line and both scored as West Ham took their chances. Blackpool, Thomas Ince aside, spurned theirs.
"It means another season of Championship slog, of 'Will we get people putting in offers for some of the young ones?' and 'Will we lose some of them?'," said Holloway gloomily.
Blackpool: GILKS; EARDLEY; BAPTISTE; EVATT; CRAINEY; MARTINEZ; FERGUSON; M PHILLIPS; DOBBIE; K PHILLIPS; INCE
West Ham: GREEN; TAYLOR; REID; TOMKINS; DEMEL; COLLISON; NOLAN; NOBLE; O'NEIL; VAZ TE; COLE
Scorers: Blackpool Ince 48. West Ham United Cole 35, Vaz Te 87.
Substitutes: Blackpool Sylvestre (K Phillips, 71), Bednar (Martinez, 90), Dicko (Dobbie, 90). West Ham McCartney (O'Neil, 53), Faubert (Demel, 57).
Booked: West Ham Vaz Te.
Man of the match Cole. Match rating 8/10. Possession: Blackpool 52% West Ham 48%.
Attempts on target: Blackpool 7 West Ham 4.
Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire). Attendance 78,523.
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