Since acquiring a controlling interest in West Ham United, messrs Gold and Sullivan (a two-headed monster dubbed Gollivan by The Guardian’s Fiver) have courted media attention at every turn. Whether publicly admonishing the team or declaring their intentions to sign David Beckham, they’ve made their presence felt at every possible opportunity.
At the moment they’re up in arms about Tottenham Hotspur’s bid to sign captain Scott Parker. Towards the back end of last season, in a typically headline-grabbing moment, Gollivan declared that the entire West Ham squad was available for transfer – with the exception of Parker. When Spurs’ bid arrived, David Sullivan was quick to make clear that they were barking up the most unwelcoming of trees:
“I made a promise that I would not sell Scott and I will not, for any amount of money, break that promise to the West Ham supporters.
This is a new era. We are building a bigger, better West Ham and when we make a promise, we honour it.”
A reddening Sullivan added that he was “very angry with Harry, Daniel [Levy, the Tottenham chairman] and Spurs”. Harry Redknapp, that most experienced wheeler-dealers, has reacted swiftly to the rebuttal:
“You can make an offer for a player if you want to. You can make an offer for anybody. I’m sure the chairman must have got some encouragement or he wouldn’t have made an offer.”
A fair point, but Redknapp still had a further knockout blow up his sleeve:
“Who made it public that we made an offer?”
That, Gollivan, is check-mate.
If your sole desire was to keep Scott Parker at the club, you would never have mentioned Spurs’ bid to the press. It would have been dismissed, via fax, and never spoken of again. Instead, the West Ham owners couldn’t resist the opportunity to swagger and posture before their new fans.
In many respects they’re making the situation worse. Arsenal made a similar statement in regard to Cesc Fabregas, but that was only in the face of an extraordinary amount of media speculation. Gollivan’s actions are due to be the catalyst to an ongoing tabloid saga that will almost certainly end with Scott Parker becoming unsettled. This is certainly Parker’s last chance to play in the Champions League, and Spurs are reportedly the club he supported as a boy. It is guaranteed their interest will prick his ears.
Sullivan and Gold’s ‘openness’ with the media is what made Gianfranco Zola’s position as West Ham manager untenable. What an irony it would be if that same ‘openness’ cost the Hammers their best player, as well as forcing Gollivan in to the most embarrassing climbdown since Edmund Hillary realised he’d forgotten the flag.