Sullivan buys West Ham in deal that makes 'no sense'

Former Birmingham owner admits new club is struggling to avoid relegation and saddled with £110m debts
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The Independent Football

The new West Ham United owner David Sullivan yesterday admitted he would not have bought into the Irons were it any other club.

The life-long Hammers fan has, along with business partner David Gold, a former youth team player at Upton Park, acquired 50 per cent of the Premier League outfit in a deal which values the club at £110m and gives the duo operational and commercial control.

However, while living out a boyhood dream Sullivan – who helped turn the fortunes of Birmingham around before selling the club last year – admitted their latest venture made no business sense. West Ham's overall debt stands at around £100m, owed to both banks and other clubs, including settlements to Sheffield United over the Carlos Tevez affair and former manager Alan Curbishley.

"We would not buy this club at all if this wasn't West Ham," said Sullivan, sporting a claret coat to mark the occasion. "It makes no commercial sense for anyone to buy this club and it's amazing that two other people wanted to buy it. One is another West Ham supporter [Tony Fernandes] and the Italian [Massimo Cellino], I am not quite sure if he looked at the books properly, but if he looked at the books he might have walked away."

The pair have also brought Karren Brady, who they worked with at Birmingham, on to the board.

Sullivan, who has an option to buy the remaining 50 per cent from Icelandic bank Straumur in the next four years, also said they would aim to move West Ham into the Olympic Stadium following the 2012 games.

The new owners were set to meet manager Gianfranco Zola last night.