West Ham unveil revival plan
Tuesday 18 May 2010
Having avoided 'Armageddon' by ensuring their Premier League survival, co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan have outlined their vision to take West Ham forward.
Their 10-point plan includes issues including the appointment of Gianfranco Zola's successor - a shortlist has already been drawn up with Portsmouth's Avram Grant rumoured to be among the favourites for the role - the recruitment and retention of players, action to clear the club's debt and plans to move the club to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.
A statement on the club's official website, www.whufc.com, read: "It may be the close-season but here at West Ham United we are all busy preparing for 2010/11 and putting in place the next steps to take this club forward.
"Having admittedly had a tough end to the last campaign, we are determined to build on the many positives we have at the club and use the summer months to make sure we hit the ground running next time around."
Zola was dismissed by the club after a dismal season which saw them narrowly escape relegation to the Championship, finishing one place and five points above the drop zone.
As the Italian attempted to steer the team out of danger at the foot of the table, his position was undermined by Sullivan, who took control of the club in January along with Gold and described the prospect of falling out of the top flight as 'Armageddon'.
Sullivan apologised to supporters via the club's official website for a "shambolic" and "pathetic" performance against Wolves in March as Zola's position became increasingly isolated.
There were also suggestions Zola was unaware of moves to make the entire first-team squad, except for Scott Parker, available for transfer and that he was kept in the dark over a bid for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans.
Zola's tenure as boss came to an end last week and Sullivan and Gold today pledged to appoint a new boss in time for pre-season training.
The statement continued: "Our efforts are focused on recruiting a high-calibre manager with the necessary experience to deliver good football and, most importantly, results.
"A shortlist of candidates has been identified and the appointment will be made with enough time to prepare for pre-season."
Sullivan and Gold addressed nine further issues, including rebuilding the team and pledged to keep investing in the academy, which previously nurtured the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole.
"For too long, the focus has been on players leaving rather than arriving," added the statement.
"We will strengthen in the right areas to ensure an exciting and balanced squad that is well placed to cope with the rigours of a Premier League season.
"Our main aim will be to bring in players hungry to do well who share our ambitions and aspirations.
"We will make sure homegrown talent nurtured in the 'West Ham way' will always be given the chance to complement established players brought in from elsewhere."
West Ham's precarious financial state was also addressed by Sullivan and Gold, who assumed control from the club's former Icelandic owners, who were thrown into crisis by the global economic downturn.
"We have a responsibility to ensure this club is never again placed in a perilous position," Sullivan and Gold continued in the statement.
"Great strides have been taken to get us on a sound financial footing but there is still a way to go.
"Difficult decisions have had to be made - and that will continue to be the case - but our bottom line on the bottom line is to ensure the club survives."
A large part of Sullivan and Gold's vision for the future is a move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
The eight-week deadline for would-be tenants of the £537m venue in east London to lodge expressions of interest to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) ended yesterday.
West Ham made a joint bid with Newham Council and spent time in "meaningful discussions" with a range of organisations include UK Athletics (UKA), Essex Cricket and AEG, the owners of the nearby O2 Arena, to try to broaden and fine-tune their proposal.
Today's statement reiterated their hope to move to the stadium, which as part of the 2012 legacy programme must be retained as an athletics venue.
Sullivan and Gold's statement added: "Leaving the Boleyn Ground will be a wrench but the Olympic Stadium is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a financial and football sense.
"Our potential partnership with Newham Council promises to take this club to a new level, while protecting our history and traditions.
"To move forward, we have to move - but always with an eye on the past."
The remaining points on the 10-point pledge were titled: "Freeze season ticket prices for renewals"; "Build the status and image of the club"; "Make it enjoyable to come and watch"; "Get closer to the community"; and "Listen to supporters".
The statement concluded: "This 10-point pledge is just the start.
"We are here for the long term and our goals will evolve as we progress.
"We are proud to be here and will never stop working for you. All of us share the same hopes and dreams.
"It is not just about aiming for cup finals or derby victories but about feeling part of something together and all pulling in the same direction.
"As the name says, we are very much West Ham. United."
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