As if it wasn’t bad enough Harry Redknapp openly speculating about Demba Ba’s contract position, we now have West Ham’s Joint Chairman, David Sullivan, doing the same. Are we finding the true ‘Cockney Mafia’ here, all banding together because ‘them Geordie’ have got one over on them?
Whatever the legalities of the situation, it surely has to be totally morally out of order for a club owner to be talking so openly about what a former employee might or might not have in his contract.
In an interview with independent West Ham website www.westhamtillidie.com, David Sullivan alleges that Demba Ba would get half of anything over £7m if Newcastle sell him.
I don’t know what I believe in relation to Ba’s contract but what I am sure of is that West Ham massively cocked things up and that Sullivan is one bitter man. Result!
Ian Dale (Westhamtillidie): How did that work? (In relation to Demba Ba allegedly having a get out if West Ham relegated) Did we pay money to Hoffenheim?
David Sullivan: I’ll tell you exactly what happened. We wanted to loan him, but Hoffenheim said they wouldn’t loan him as they could get 6 million euros for him from Stoke. He then failed the medical at Stoke. I went back and asked to loan him again. Again they said no, but they would sell him to us. So we paid 500,000 euros down, which was almost like a loan fee, and then we’d pay 5 ½ million euros starting the next season depending on how many games he played – one level of payment in the Championship, one level of payment on the Premier League. I’ll have to make the figures up because I can’t remember, but something like 25,000 euros a game in the Premier League and 10,000 euros in the Championship. Demba Ba signed a three and a half year contract with us. We had a deal where his salary would be halved if we were relegated. He said, “Well on that basis, I have got to be allowed to walk if we get relegated”. What we should have said in retrospect – but none of us thought he would score so many goals – is that we’d be happy to give him £40 grand a week in the Championship. In the end I offered him £45 grand a week to stay but he wouldn’t take it. What we should have said was that if we don’t halve your salary, you haven’t got a get-out. The failure to put that one line in the contract cost us very, very dearly. As I say, he was on £35 grand a week and I offered him £45 grand a week to stay, but he went to Newcastle. His agent got £2 million to take him to Newcastle.
ID: So do Newcastle now have to pay to Hoffenheim the money you would have had to pay?
DS: No. That’s why Newcastle could always outbid us. It was our deal with Hoffenheim.
ID: So Hoffenheim got stuffed, then.
DS: Yup, they got half a million for him. This didn’t work for anyone except Demba Ba… and Newcastle. I’m told he’s got a £7 million get-out at Newcastle and he gets half the money over that. They keep denying it but I think you’ll see in the summer he will leave Newcastle or he’ll get a monstrous rise to stay there. If they get about four million, half will go to him, so if they sell him for £7 million they’ll only net about three because they paid his agent £2 million to get him out of here. Getting £3 million is not bad, but for a player of his quality it’s not fantastic. It’s one of those mistakes that happen, but it’s probably one of the worst mistakes I have ever made in my life. It just didn’t enter our heads. it didn’t enter anybody’s head that he’d score enough goals that we’d want to give him £40k a week and his old club £15/20k an appearance and we’d still be relegated. In reality that’s exactly what happened. The agent just threw it in at the last minute. He said “Obviously if his salary is cut by 50% you’ve got to let him walk”. We thought, OK, if we get relegated, do we really want a £40k a week striker in the Championship? Well, we would have because he was devastating. If he was with us now and his knee had held up, because remember, he did have a very very bad knee, I think we’d be 15 points clear, I really do. He’d be cutting through those defences. You live and you learn.