x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hammers look East for future investors

West Ham United are the latest club to make a money-motivated pilgrimage to this region as they search for stability at Upton Park.

DUBAI // West Ham United are the latest club to make a money-motivated pilgrimage to this region as they search for stability at Upton Park. A delegation including David Sullivan, the joint-chairman alongside David Gold, and Karren Brady, the vice-chairman, is in Dubai sounding out pot-ential investors as the relegation-threatened side battle for survival on and off the pitch. When Sullivan and Gold acquired 50 per cent of West Ham in January, the two life-long Hammers supporters saved the London club from administration. But in doing so, the pair revealed the extent of the financial failings: £50 million (Dh278m) owed to banks, £60m to other clubs and future season ticket sales used as capital.

The other 50 per cent of the club's shares are held by CB Holdings, whose majority shareholder is the distressed Icelandic bank Straumur. It is these shares that Sullivan and Brady are touting while in the Emirates. "I am in Dubai with Karren, but our talks are strictly confidential," Sullivan was quoted in English media as saying. "It is clear to everyone that West Ham need an injection of cash. When we took over in January [they were] £110m in debt and we have been working non-stop and have cut it down to just over £90m."

The trip to the Middle East follows recent fact-finding missions to the region by other leading English football clubs, including Newcastle United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Gianfranco Zola's side sit 17th in the Premier League and are equal on points with 18th-placed Hull, who have played a game less. The Hammers have lost their last six matches and face in-form Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. @Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae