Are West Ham Fans Delusional for Wanting More?

Many West Ham fans have been let down by the move to the London Stadium and now want the current owners to sell the club. (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Many West Ham fans have been let down by the move to the London Stadium and now want the current owners to sell the club. (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Are West Ham fans’ dreams of European glory delusions of self grandeur? Under current ownership, yes, but according to revenue and social media data, those forever blowing bubbles may be onto something.

West Ham has the 7th highest revenue in the Premier League, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Football Money League European rankings. This financial standing among the English elite is no flukish recent phenomenon. The Hammers have been in Deloitte’s European revenue top twenty for the past five years – the only club outside The Big 6 to do so.

But on the other end of the ledger, West Ham’s 25-man Premier League squad is only the 11th most expensive in England’s top-flight (in terms of cumulative transfer cost of each player).

Another way to measure squad investment is via payroll. After a disappointing transfer window, West Ham currently ranks 13th in the Premier League in total payroll. At an annual wage bill of £37,700,000, the Hammers will spend £30 million less than a club with a similar revenue profile – Everton F.C., who steam-rolled West Ham 4-1 in their Carabao Cup matchup.

Ranking in the bottom half of the Premier League’s squad investment is no surprise to those following the asset stripping of David Sullivan and David Gold.

What does come as a surprise is that West Ham have earned 8 points from their past four Premier League fixtures against Wolverhampton (win), Leicester (win), Tottenham (tie that was celebrated more than most wins), and Manchester City (the Cityzens were lucky to leave with a point) – all teams that finished in the top-7 last season.

West Ham have had a good start to the season, despite a hard run of fixtures.
West Ham have had a good start to the season, despite a hard run of fixtures. (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

This gulf between squad investment and performance on the pitch has been a welcome surprise, but an infuriating one as well. While the two Davids shrewd business moves have fattened their own finances, they have also displayed a dereliction of duty to their self-avowed status as more than just owners, but as Hammers fans since their youth.

Unfortunately, West Ham’s leaders being allergic to aspirations is nothing new.

This has been the case since at least 2000, when club chairman Terry Brown initiated an exodus of home-grown talent which would see Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, and Jermain Defoe leave over the next four years.

But a lack of buy-in to West Ham fan’s hunger for another trophy (their latest a 1980 FA Cup) has not stopped the fanbase from believing we are capable of Moore. As a result of high hopes, Hammers fans are often derided for merely voicing ambition to rise about their station.

Hammer Haters may be surprised to hear that the quintessential stereotype of a delusional Hammers fan – a bloke with Golem’s complexion, a gourmand who fancies himself a pint instead of pull-ups whose bark is louder than his bite – is backed up by the hard data.

West Ham United brand’s stature on social media means that the club, founded in 1895, is poised for a promising future as well. As of January 2020, West Ham had 2.3 million Facebook likes, 1.6 million Twitter followers, and 1 million Instagram followers. That’s 20th, 19th, and 18th in Europe respectively. (A good time for a shameless plug: give @GreenStHammers a follow).

When the next report comes out in January 2021, West Ham may take a slight dip in matchday revenue. Due to the global pandemic, the Irons have not been able to fill all 60,000 seats of the massive London Olympic Stadium.

West Ham have not been able to fill all 60,000 seats of the massive London Olympic Stadium
West Ham have not been able to fill all 60,000 seats of the massive London Olympic Stadium. (Photo by ANDY RAIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

But this is just another arrow in the quiver – West Ham claim the third-highest average attendance in the Premier League; more than Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea.

That West Ham’s recent body of financial work has them at 7th in the Premier League is significant in and of itself, but especially so when considering rumours of a new European Premier League.

Manchester United and Liverpool are planning (plotting is a better word) for a year-round 18 team league run by FIFA that would appear to supplant the UEFA Champions League as the place to see titans of football face-off across borders.

While initial reporting suggests that six England teams would participate, if the participants were decided solely based on revenue, West Ham would just make the cut at 18th.

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This news brings a fresh perspective to Manchester United and Liverpool’s plans (plots) for another power grab, Project Big Picture. A reduction in Premier League teams from twenty to eighteen would clear the way for more weekday European fixtures.

Their proposal for restructuring of Premier League voting and revenue distribution would see the nine longest-serving clubs – the big six plus Everton, Southampton, and West Ham – holding “special status” voting privileges.

West Ham have already announced they do not want anything to do with mahogany-panelled backroom dealing of this nature (They don’t have the energy for any more of these manoeuvres after various transfer window failings).

I only bring this up to show that even the giants of football have bigger ambitions for West Ham than our own owners! This ambition has allowed for clubs that make less money than West Ham United to achieve great heights.

British Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri took over Everton F.C. in February 2016. Instead of excuses, Moshiri claimed that “There has never been a more level playing field in the Premier League than now.

Four years later and the Toffees currently sit top of the league while playing some of the most attractive football in the Prem.

Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took over Leicester City in 2010. Five years later The Foxes overcame historic 5000-to-1 odds and were crowned Premier League champions.

After Leicester City won the Premier League, Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said, “If this was a once in every 5,000-year event, then we’ve effectively got another 5,000 years of hope ahead of us.”

Another important fact to keep in mind when discussing the “inevitability” of the Big Six – the term itself was only created in 2009! Around that time Tottenham and Manchester City joined what was once a Top Four.

Furthermore, the Top Four isn’t set in stone either. Chelsea eventually replaced Leeds United around 2003 after financial mismanagement saw The Whites collapse down to the third division of English football, and Roman Abromovich injected millions of his oil money into Chelski.

I don’t need to go into detail about the farcical reign of the two Davids (because Reddit did it for me). Yes, I’m dreaming dreams when I speak of West Ham regularly competing in Europe, and acknowledge that a base-line of competency must come before trophies.

West Ham vs Manchester City: The Inside Track. dark. Next

Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Gold, I am pleading with you: please take your couple hundred million pounds, and sell the club to someone who will get us on the first page of the sports section instead of the tabloids.


1,000 Words of Frustration Fueled Research