I'm not sure if it's really au-fait to go quoting yourself but I remember writing some time ago during the Rio / Brown / Redknapp argument that, despite what the popular maxim states, there are not three types of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics – but actually four; lies, damned lies, statistics and football talk.
Despite the protestations that David's Gold and Sullivan represent the return of West Ham United to the steady hand of East Enders, I must admit to receiving the news of the new Gold Standard with just a hint of cynicism. Perhaps I've been around this club too long but anyone who listens to promises of plans to "take the Hammers into the Champions League within seven years" and gets all excited are either naive or just have plain short memories.
Remember someone we affectionately christened Eggy? Am I alone in not wanting this type of talk? OK I know it's the equivalent of a ‘these are beatable' team talk, moments before a 2nd Division club steps out against Manchester United in the FA Cup but we need to reflect before we can make such bold statements.
Obviously there had to be an end to the days of Straumur and CB Holding following the Icelandic collapse, the club was lurching nearer and nearer to disaster and administration and for that reason alone I welcome the new owners, but I'll reserve other judgements for later. OK I'll admit it's probably not the kind of level-headed journalism that you may expect when discussing the buy-out of a club we all love and devote extraordinary amounts of time and money too, but it would be wrong to deny that at West Ham, if anything can go wrong then it probably will.
The Icelandic purchase from our old 'East End hands' certainly ended in tears but anyone who tells you that they foresaw the eventual outcome is either a liar or E.F Schumacher (he was an economist – Google it!) The mess involving the Tevez saga and the Sheffield United court case were both preventable and could have occurred whoever was in charge such was the deceit involved but, in any case, I'd argue the main culprits weren't even Icelandic by birth anyway. Quite why Björgólfur Guðmundsson didn't know what his friend and colleague Eggert Magnusson was doing with his wilful transfer and salary policy will always be a major puzzle but, even so in a parallel world without sub-prime mortgages, we could still have been controlled by a shareholder of one of the World's major banks – at one stage Guðmundsson was reckoned to have a net worth of $1.1 billion dollars – and if you want a club with a rich owner then we could have been in better hands than Manchester United or Liverpool.
CB Holding was a necessary evil to stave off what should have a total disaster – surely if we hadn't been a member of the world's foremost football league we would have been sold off to offset debts or allowed to collapse? – and everything that has happened since from the paucity of the squad to the sale of a top defender to Aston Villa is the result of that. Bad luck doesn't come packaged much better. Really you have to look at the whole Icelandic saga and shrug your shoulders and pull a rueful grin otherwise you'd probably start to cry.
But that spell of foreign ownership is now a thing of the past and we need to look to the future and it is this aspect of West Ham that I have never been able to quite get my head round. I know a lot of fans don't agree with me but I cannot see why West Ham shouldn't benefit financially and otherwise from the fact that the eyes of the world will be on the east side of London in two years time. Some have said that it won't make any difference to West Ham but if doesn't then someone has taken their eye off the ball and missed a major opportunity to raise the profile of the club to a worldwide audience. And when the Olympic flame has been extinguished and the last visitor has checked out there will be a large expanse of prime land that will be available for sport for the local community. It will have superb road and rail links and it will still be in solid east end territory – we're not talking about Milton Keynes here – and to not think about moving the club to the Olympic area and selling the Boleyn to Tesco's is economic madness, in my view.
Before some accuse me of heresy, let's get this straight: I was one of the people who were sent the questionnaire back in the dark days of the ill-fated Bond Scheme asking, amongst other things, if I supported a move away from Upton Park. I said 'No' mired as I was in the fact I was born, lived and went to school within a goal roar of the ground. In the short-term I think my reaction was probably right bearing in mind that some clubs who built new grounds subsequently found huge debt and relegation attaching itself to sides who may have been considered at the time to have been comfortable mid-table First Division outfits, and I'll gladly admit that, if or when the bulldozers rumble down Green Street, I will probably be at the gates swallowing something jagged with a pocketful of Kleenex - but that shouldn't make any difference.
Any businessman who can't see the possibilities of making money out of selling up and moving from a piece of land that isn't really suitable for use anymore and relocating to a purpose-made area a few miles down the road, isn't worth his salt. It's here where we may have struck Gold (sorry but there will be plenty of this in the month's to come and I'm just getting in early) because whatever else you throw at the David's, they know how to build a business empire.
The moot point for most Hammers' fans though is can the new owners' build a football empire? I'm a supporter of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke and I welcome the early statements that indicate that Zola will still have a job, although it is with reserve as the 'if he still wants it' comment suggests that he may have to deal directly with hatchet-woman Karren Brady rather than his Italian mentor Nani. Scott Duxbury may soon find that the town isn't big enough for him and a significant other either but, with most people still scratching their heads over the mooted 'Project' that involves producing kids we've been producing for decades anyway, it's not likely to cause too many Hammers supporters sleep. Instead, the usual message about hanging onto those kids and not selling them to Chelsea for the price of a year's supply of Pukka pies would be more welcome. But Gold's a West Ham fan so it will come because, presumably, he knows it as well as the rest of us.
Reservations exist because of the Gold and Sullivan ownership of Birmingham City. It's easy to revert to clichés and Jasper Carrott style football jokes when discussing Birmingham but you have to remember this is Britain's second city with a huge fan base and the potential for much more, a club that spent most of the years under the previous owners yo-yoing between divisions and becoming something of a soft touch. There may have been immediate returns after relegation and the shareholders may have made money but this is West Ham we are talking about where a portion of the fans think mid-table safety is a failure. I'd argue that, if Birmingham is an example of what we can expect from the two David's, then things are not likely to be much better than they were under Terry Brown and the Cearns.
This being West Ham though we are going to talk again of potential, Bobby Moore, 1966, the Academy, Frank, Rio, Joe and everyone else who has been and gone and say 'if only' so, if only in lip service alone, David Gold will almost certainly indicate we have more to gain and that we are a bigger club (in fact, if he's not made a statement to that effect before this goes on the web then I'll eat my 1963 West Ham bobble hat). I'll grant it is encouraging that Gold and Sullivan have asked for other investors to come forward as it suggests that they know that only big money talks in the Premier League but the trouble is we've had a lot of words over the years; its actions we want now.
In the short term, I assume funds will be released for players for the transfer window as we desperately need cover in some areas or things are going to get worse. I'm confident though that West Ham will pull out of the slump and expect them to eventually climb to safety so it's with half an eye on next season where the promises of Gold and Sullivan will start to formulate for me and it's there where I'm, if not less confident, at least holding my breath.
I don't want empty promises about the Champions League – you don't miss what you never had - I just want a well-run club that plays good football in a packed stadium with a vociferous crowd. I want the TV cameras concentrating on players following in the footsteps of Di Canio, Cottee, McAvennie, Brooking, Hurst and Devonshire not lingering on the withering gaze of Margaret Mountford's replacement. I don't want to see that bloody headline 'Hammer Horrors' again. Nor do I want a day like the one when I saw Glenn Roeder in a hard hat sitting on the rubble of the west stand or that other fateful day when I saw one of the best young defenders in Europe making his debut for a club who were in no better a position than we were. Thanks for the reminder David but I know Bobby Moore was a great player – I saw him play – I don't want to keep getting told what we once had but rather to see the next Moore in a white shirt in the summer and a West Ham one in the winter. I don't want to be the butt of the jokes in an office of glory-seeking 'northerners' and I'd like to look a Spurs supporter in the eye after a cup victory or two and I'd like to see some of our kids still playing for us long after they have an opportunity to grow a beard.
If you can give me that Messrs Gold and Sullivan, then we may have some type of understanding and you'll have my lifelong thanks. But, encouraging press conference aside, you won't mind if I just sit back and see what transpires for a bit, will you? After all, you're real West Ham fans so you know how I feel!