Zola angered by new owners

Frank Malley,Pa
Tuesday 09 February 2010 16:45
West Ham's owners announced staff would have to take a pay cut
West Ham's owners announced staff would have to take a pay cut

Gianfranco Zola took a swipe at West Ham's new owners after David Sullivan announced in the media the entire staff would have to take a pay cut in the summer.

It is thought the manager and players, along with other club staff, will be asked by co-owners Sullivan and David Gold to take a 25% cut to slash the club's £60million wage bill.

An angry Zola, however, criticised the timing of the revelation, coming just 24 hours before West Ham take on Birmingham tomorrow in a vital Premier League match at St Andrew's.

Zola said: "I think the article should have been done at another time, not just before a match like tomorrow. It would have been better to say that at another time and maybe talk to us before talking to a newspaper. That is my feeling."

Zola, who earns £1.9million a year, revealed he had not spoken to the owners, nor had he been consulted about the issue.

But after preparing his players for a match against the club so recently run by Sullivan and Gold, Zola added:

"Personally I can say I am not here for the money. Last year when I signed a contract I didn't even know how much I was going to earn.

"I had a plan and a project and I liked what I was going to do. I didn't know what I was going to earn and then after a while the club called me in about a new contract.

"It's not about money. It is about working for something positive. I aways enjoy working for this club. The money was something that came after."

Zola was clearly irritated by the potentially destabilising effect of the pay issue and wants to concentrate on getting West Ham out of relegation trouble.

When asked if the owners speak to the press too much, Zola added: "It doesn't interest me. They can talk to the press as much as they want. When an article comes like that before a big match like tomorrow I'm not happy about that because I don't think it is any good for the whole team.

"I just read the article this morning and that's it. The match is all that matters to me and the players."

West Ham have taken two points from a possible nine since Sullivan and Gold took over. They are rooted in the relegation zone while Sullivan and Gold's former team, Birmingham, are the season's surprise package, having risen to eighth on the fringes of a European place.

Sullivan, who saw the Hammers slump to a 2-1 defeat at Burnley on Saturday, says it would be "Armageddon" if West Ham were relegated.

Zola, however, insisted: "I'm not thinking about relegation at all. I'm thinking about getting the points that we should have had on the table That is my only focus. That is why I am here.

"Since I have been here it has been a repetition of speculation and problems. To be honest I'm fed up with that. I just want to carry on with football.

"The players are committed to what we are doing. They believe in it and are determined. The defeat against Burnley was unexpected and a big blow. But the fighting spirit is there and we will never give up."

On the pitch, meanwhile, striker Benni McCarthy is out of the Birmingham game with a knee injury picked up against Burnley.

Zola also defended long-term injury casualty Kieron Dyer whose four-hour round-trip to the training ground from Ipswich had been the subject of criticism.

Zola said: "There are players in other clubs who travel two hours to the training ground. Some players even fly to go to training. Dyer has been very unfortunate. He has been out for a long time. He is trying very hard to come back."

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