West Ham will need £40m of bail-out loans if relegated, says Sullivan

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The Independent Football

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has admitted that the club is in "a worse financial position than any other in the country". Speaking yesterday with the club close to relegation from the Premier League, he predicted that he would have to inject loans of up to £40m should they go down.

The club are already in about £80m of debt and Sullivan revealed the scale of the crisis that relegation would bring. "The fans should know that this club is in a worse financial position than any other in the country," he said. "All the debts are football or bank debts secured on the stadium and training ground so there is no route via administration. West Ham really is a club where the football and bank debts exceed the value of the club."

Sullivan and his co-owner David Gold would have to invest more into the club if they go down. "Should the worst happen, we will have to inject loans of £20m-£40m, depending on circumstances, which will probably never be repaid. I don't believe the supporters realise the potential real cost to us."

West Ham are among the diminishing set of Premier League clubs with British owners, and Sullivan bemoaned that they do not have the available resources of their rivals. "Nobody out there wants to take on the burden of West Ham United," he said. "We do, as we are supporters but our resources don't match foreign-based oligarchs who pay no UK tax."

The Upton Park club are bottom, four points adrift of safety. They need to win their remaining games, away at Wigan Athletic and at home to Sunderland, to stay up. Even then they would not be assured of safety.

"We're not down yet but I admit it's not looking good," Sullivan continued. "I've been relegated three times before, on every occasion gaining automatic promotion the following season but this one will hurt me the most if it happens. David and I have taken criticism and, should we be relegated, will accept the responsibility."

Sullivan and Gold will be travelling to Wigan on Saturday, and Sullivan praised the home supporters from last weekend's home draw with Blackburn. "The support for the team on Saturday was magnificent," he said, "the best we've seen since we've been at the club."