Grant sacked on the spot as hapless West Ham go down

Chris Hughton and Neil Warnock in frame to take over after Wigan come from 2-0 behind to win

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:12
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Avram Grant was sacked as West Ham manager last night, less than an hour after leading his team to relegation from the Premier League. West Ham lost 3-2 at Wigan Athletic yesterday afternoon, having been 2-0 up at half-time.

After the match Grant saw club co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, and then went to say goodbye to his back-room staff. He said nothing about his future when questioned in the post-game press conference. A club official statement an hour after the final whistle confirmed that Grant was "no longer the manager of West Ham United", and that first-team coach Kevin Keen would be in charge for the final match of the season, at home against Sunderland on Sunday. Chris Hughton and Neil Warnock are among the likely candidates to lead West Ham in the Championship next season. Last night Gold said: 'This is undoubtedly the worst moment in all the years I've ben supporting West Ham and of course I wish I'd done things differently."

West Ham had barely been out of the relegation zone all season, and have been bottom more often than not. Grant was appointed last summer, after the dismissal of Gianfranco Zola, and signed a four-year contract. It is his second consecutive season of relegation after he took Portsmouth down last year.

Victory was essential yesterday at the DW Stadium for West Ham to stay alive, and even then they needed Fulham to win at Birmingham City. The match started well enough, as West Ham went 2-0 up in the first half. Demba Ba scored after 12 and 26 minutes, a lead that lasted to half-time.

After the break, though, West Ham surrendered their lead. Charles N'Zogbia scored Wigan's first, before Conor Sammon equalised. West Ham were set to be relegated at 2-2, but N'Zogbia won Wigan another crucial two points with a stoppage-time winner. Aside from the football concerns, West Ham face a financial crisis after relegation. The club are already heavily in debt and will need investment from co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan this summer just to keep the club functioning. They expect to lose most of their better players, including Scott Parker, who was on the bench yesterday.

Relegation from the Premier League necessarily brings financial difficulties but West Ham are in a worse position than most to handle them. Sullivan recently described the club as "in a worse financial position than any other in the country".

The club's football and bank debts, secured against their stadium and training ground, are estimated at £80m, at least the value of the club. Next season they will be denied the higher television revenue and gate receipts that come with Premier League football.

The Premier League has lucrative television deals for broadcasts in the UK and abroad. These are worth roughly £45m each year to clubs like West Ham – money which makes up roughly 60 per cent of the club's revenue, which they will have to do without next season. Similarly, match-day revenue will drop with West Ham deprived of games against Manchester United, Arsenal and so forth. They will receive parachute payments totalling £48m over four years – payments of £16m over each of the next two seasons and then £8m over the following two – but these will not make up the shortfall.

As well as the decrease in revenue, West Ham have forecast more future spending. There are loan repayments due as well as some of the compensation owed to Sheffield United. Most pressing, and most worrying should they still be a Championship club, is their move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford. They will have to invest at least £95m in Stratford, which includes their taking a £40m loan from Newham council, adding half as much again to their current debt.

The financial situation will demand cuts to the players' budget. Kieron Dyer and Matthew Upson's contracts both expire this summer and so should leave on free transfers. The club's more marketable players will be sold.

The best price should come in for Footballer of the Year Scott Parker, who was the subject of a £7m bid from Tottenham Hotspur last summer. Robert Green should also command a useful price. Recent imports Demba Ba and Thomas Hitzlsperger signed three-year deals this season but neither are likely to be satisfied playing in the Championship. Loan signings Robbie Keane and Wayne Bridge will return to Tottenham and Manchester City respectively. Any new manager would then have to build a new squad.

Gold and Sullivan had said that relegation would require them to inject loans of between £20m and £40m just to keep West Ham functioning. Sullivan said last week: "I don't believe the supporters realise the potential real cost to us."

Grant at West Ham

Avram Grant's West Ham record since becoming West Ham manager on a four-year contract last June.

P: 47, W: 15, D: 12, L: 20, Win per cent: 32

Final day

Blackburn If Blackburn lose to Wolves and two out of Birmingham, Blackpool or Wigan win, Rovers will be relegated.

Wolves If Wolves lose by two or more, a draw from any of the three teams below could be enough to send them down. Like Blackburn, a win is enough.

Birmingham A win at Tottenham guarantees their survival but anything less leaves them vulnerable to teams below.

Blackpool A win at Old Trafford should be enough but still depends on results elsewhere. They could leapfrog Birmingham with a draw if Wigan fail to win below them and one of Wolves or Birmingham lose above them.

Wigan If Wigan win at Stoke and two of the other four teams above them can't match their result, they survive. A draw is enough if Blackpool and Birmingham lose.

Who else can go down

Blackburn If Blackburn lose at Wolves and two out of Birmingham, Blackpool or Wigan win, Rovers will be relegated.

Wolves If Wolves lose by two or more to Blackburn, a draw from any of the three teams below could be enough to send them down. A win will keep them up.

Birmingham A win at Tottenham guarantees their survival but anything less leaves them vulnerable to teams below.

Blackpool A win at Manchester United should be enough but still depends on results elsewhere. They could leapfrog Birmingham with a draw if Wigan fail to win below them and one of Wolves or Birmingham lose above them.

Wigan If Wigan win at Stoke and two of the other four teams above them can't match their result, they survive. A draw is enough if Blackpool and Birmingham lose.

Lowdown: How last Hammers team to drop, in 2003, fared

By Michael Butler

David James: Former England international, now playing for Bristol City.

Glen Johnson: The now-Liverpool player is England's first choice right-back.

Tomas Repka: Previous Czech Republic international, now captain of Sparta Prague.

Cristian Dailly: Former Scotland captain, he now plays in League One for Charlton.

Rufus Brevett: Now retired – he now owns his own tanning salon in Egham, Surrey.

Trevor Sinclair: Capped 12 times by England, he is now retired and lives in Dubai.

Steve Lomas: Retired but re-joined West Ham as reserve team manager this season.

Joe Cole: As with Glenn Johnson, the England player is now at Liverpool via Chelsea.

Jermain Defoe: England international, currently playing for Tottenham Hotspur.

Frederic Kanoute: Former Mali international, now playing for Sevilla in Spain.

Paolo Di: Canio Now retired, he has a lounge named after him at Upton Park. Has recently been linked with Swindon Town's managerial post.

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