Tuesday, 6 March 2007

The Pernicious Cocktail

Unsurprisingly, the Guardian are the first to lead with a piece about the racism row that has engulfed the Hammers since the game on Sunday. It claims that West Ham United's season took a turn from the shambolic to the shameful on Sunday when large groups of supporters were filmed chanting racist and anti-semitic slogans at half-time of the club's 4-3 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that its football unit is investigating a complaint made by the Community Security Trust, an organisation that protects Britain's Jewish community from anti-semitism. Among the chants heard was one stating: "I'd rather be a Paki than a Jew". The Daily Mail also follow the same angle, positing that West Ham face a police and FA investigation after a video of their supporters singing racist songs at Upton Park appeared on the internet. Footage appears to show around 30 West Ham supporters singing inflammatory songs in the bar area on the stadium's concourse. A video was initially placed on YouTube by the mysterious 'Cockneymatt88' but was later removed. The FA revealed they have passed the footage to police and have asked West Ham to provide them with details of stewarding and CCTV coverage in that section of the ground. Acording to the article, the club will only be punished if their security operation is found to be unsatisfactory, something that is thought to be unlikely. Predictably, the Daily Mirror are never far from the scene of a racism story and revel in adding a few extra salacious details, such as the "sickening cries of 'Sieg Heil' and 'Heil Hitler'.

Elsewhere, West Ham feature prominently in the Richard Williams column in the Guardian. He suggests Eggert Magnusson should stick with Alan Curbishley and allow him to stop the rot at Upton Park, even if the coming summer will be occupied with a cleansing operation so extensive as to make the Augean stables look like a suite at Claridge's. According to the Independent, the signs for the manager in this respect are good. Jason Burt suggests West Ham will have a major clear-out this summer - but Alan Curbishley will not be removed as manager, with the club's board putting the blame for the current plight firmly on the players. The Telegraph also adopts this stance, claiming that bewildered and beleaguered he may be, but Alan Curbishley is set to remain as West Ham manager even if the club are relegated. It quotes Eggert Magnusson as describing Curbishley as the man to build future success at Upton Park and suggests that as votes of confidence go, it was refreshingly free of caveats or coded warnings.

The clean-up operation starts now for West Ham with Alan Curbishley being told to kick out the flops and slackers, according to the Mirror. Chairman Eggert Magnusson has given the Hammers manager licence in the summer to purge the squad of players who care more about their Baby Bentleys and reckless gambling than they do about the club. The Sun lead with a similar story, claiming Alan Curbishley has finally got tough with his West Ham rebels- and even banned them from playing cards. Curbs has also told his assistant Mervyn Day to stand at the gates of the training ground and clock which players turn up late. The manager’s watchdog will be noting names then reporting to Curbs, who plans to hit them hard with his new code of conduct. He has banned card schools on the team bus or club property which symbolised the gambling culture among the squad, while Anton Ferdinand has also been fined £80,000, two weeks’ wages, for flying to America during a two-week club break to celebrate his birthday.

A newspaper round-up wouldn't be complete without the obligatory ramblings of Gary Jacob in The Times. He opines that although Eggert Magnússon claimed yesterday that his long-term plans for West Ham United are unaffected by the prospect of relegation from the Barclays Premiership, it is impossible to imagine that the chairman will be offering more than £30 million to spend on new players in the summer as had been planned. He names Craig Bellamy, Yakubu Ayegbeni and Scott Parker as intended summer targets had relegation been avoided. It's not all doom and gloom though. According to the Telegraph, for all the drama of West Ham's spectacular collapse on the field and in the dressing room, the financial repercussions for the Icelandic businessmen are not as grim as one might expect. We will at least benefit from the new parachute payment of £12 million which will soften the blow of dropping to just £600,000 a year in TV money from the Football League, and with the backing of a wealthy and committed owner, the club are in better shape than they were in 2003 to withstand the financial pressures. It states that Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's banking connections will enable a restructuring of our borrowings, which cost them £2.2 million a year in interest, over a longer period. Another sign of their long-term commitment is that the Icelandic owners intend to pursue the move away from Upton Park to a new site in the London Borough of Newham.

Finally, article of the day is awarded to Sue Mott for her column in the Telegraph. She writes that West Ham are suffering from factionalism, absenteeism, gambling addictions, depression and - no coincidence - losing. The cocktail is pernicious, and not just those that Anton Ferdinand enjoyed at the Knock Knock Club in South Carolina. Rather like Britney Spears, they are the living exemplar of how fame, hype and money wreak havoc in juvenile hands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should be careful about the assumption of a wealthy owner willing to dig even deeper into his pockets...appearances and debts can often be deceiving; are you sure that what you see is what you get?

Failure to bounce back straight away, might even tailgate into a Leeds style melt-down!

It is astonishing to me that in this day and age how naive some supporters can be.

Don't say you weren't warned!


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari