West Ham United cash-in on Europe in 2021-22

WEST HAM UNITED are rapidly emerging as “the seventh club” in the Premier League even if their performances in 2022-23 suggest they have lost some of the momentum of the past two years. The club has released its financial statements for 2021-22 and their total revenues place them just behind the so-called “big six”. As one of the best supported clubs in the Premier League, West Ham are now reaping the benefits of their new stadium in Stratford, along with greater stability from the continued employment of coach David Moyes.

West Ham generated record income of £ 253 million in 2021-22, a 31% increase on the previous campaign. This was boosted by the club’s run to the UEFA Europa League semi-final, which influenced all major revenue streams. The Hammers lost to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the last four after beating Lyon and Sevilla in the knockout stages of the competition. They finished seventh in the Premier League and had to settle for Conference League football in 2022-23, although they must be among the favourites for the trophy. 

West Ham’s matchday income reached a new high in 2021-22, totalling £ 41 million after the covid-impacted 2020-21 when earnings were just £ 1 million. Broadcasting revenues were also up slightly to £ 164 million and commercial income was rose from £ 29 million to £ 48 million.

The club made a pre-tax profit of £ 12.3 million, which should provide welcome relief after three consecutive years of loss-making in which the Hammers lost a combined amount of over £ 100 million. In 2020-21, West Ham lost £ 27 million before tax.

Unsurprisingly, West Ham’s wage bill went up in 2021-22 by more than 5% to £ 136 million, equalling the amount paid in 2018-19. With overall earnings in the ascendancy, the wage-to-income ratio was 54% compared to 67% in 2020-21 and 91% in 2019-20. The average weekly wage at the club was £ 63,066.

In the transfer market, West Ham upped their game slightly although their total spend of £ 64 million was still way below the £ 100 million-plus figures of 2018-19 and 2019-20. Their biggest deals were the £ 33.5 million paid for CSKA Moscow’s Nikola Vlašić and the £ 29.8 million tabled for Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma. West Ham still owe money to two Russian clubs, but because of the war in Ukraine, they are unable to settle their account.

Over the past five seasons (including 2022-23), West Ham have been the fourth highest net spenders in the Premier League, their outlay of € 395 million (source: Transfermarkt) higher than Manchester City (€ 242m), Liverpool (€ 287m) and Tottenham (€ 368 million).

In 2021, West Ham had net debt of £ 89 million, but the situation has swung dramatically by £ 130 million and the club now has net assets of £ 40 million including £ 95 million of cash. The club benefitted from £ 125 million of new equity which has been used to pay down debt, including £ 53.5 million in shareholder loans and a portion of the loan owed to MSD, the Dell family office. This was possible due to the introduction of Czech businessman David Kretinsky, who became joint chairman with David Gold and David Sullivan after initially acquiring 20% of WH Holding and then a further 7% from other board members.

West Ham claim that 2021-22 – a second successive top seven finish in the top flight for the first time – was one of the most successful in the club’s history. The mood is certainly different at the London Stadium, with 95% of season ticket holders renewing for 2022-23 and crowds a very healthy 60,000 in the current season. The Hammers also have one of English football’s most coveted players in Declan Rice, an established member of the national team.

The outlook is quite positive for West Ham, but relegation would be a setback to their ambitions – they are currently too close to the bottom for comfort. Given their support and geography, there is scope for the Hammers to become more profitable, but much depends on securing regular European football. They have the taste for it at the moment, but the priority in 2023 will surely be to ensure they do not slip out of the Premier League.

UEFA Europa League: Barcelona hit form at the wrong time for West Ham

WEST HAM United’s 2-0 victory over Sevilla was an old fashioned European night, the kind the Boleyn Ground used to host so well on the rare occasions the Hammers qualified for the long departed Cup-Winners’ Cup. In 1975-76, clashes with the likes of Den Haag and Eintracht Frankfurt produced a marvellous, memorable atmosphere and the sound of “bubbles” rang out in the cold East London air. In some ways, the London Stadium, which has been criticised for having a somewhat empty feeling, announced its arrival against Sevilla.

West Ham have enjoyed their European run this season and they now figure among the favourites to lift the Europa League trophy. They have been drawn against Lyon, an underperforming side who have also saved some of their best moments for the competition. Their two-legged win against Porto was an achievement and they actually won five of their six group games. 

West Ham have, if anything, punched above their weight this season, but following on from 2020-21, when they finished in sixth position, their performance suggests they have moved up a step in the hierarchy. They should have enough to get past Lyon, but they could then come up against Barcelona, who were sent into Europa exile after failing in the Champions League. 

A few months ago, Barcelona would not have kept West Ham boss David Moyes awake at night, but in recent weeks, the club seems to have regained its confidence and found some form. Their 4-0 victory at Real Madrid was a stunning result and demonstrated they are on their way back after a miserable end to 2021. New signings Ferran Torres (Manchester City) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) have settled in well and have scored 15 goals between them.

Barcelona face Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals, no easy draw, but the Blaugrana have not been beaten in the league since early December. Frankfurt are in eighth place in the Bundesliga and have beaten Bayern in Munich, so they will be a tough opponent for Xavi’s team. Curiously, West Ham fans were set upon by their Frankfurt counterparts in Seville, when the Hammers were in town to face Sevilla and the German side playing at Real Betis. It’s not hard to imagine what could happen if West Ham have to travel to the Deutsche Bank Park stadium for a semi-final game.

Barcelona, however, will be determined to win the Europa League to ensure a path back to the Champions League. This is important not only for the financial benefits of being involved in the premier competition, but also to erase the humiliation of their early elimination from the Champions League. As for West Ham, they will be desperate to win something for the first time in 41 years and also rubber-stamp their elevation to European club status.

But there are other contenders and Lyon are also among the clubs that could win the competition this season. RB Leipzig, for all their spectacular progress, have never won a trophy, so you could argue they are due some material success. Similarly, Atalanta, who have joined the Serie A upper bracket in the past couple of years, could also do with some silverware to provide affirmation of their rise. Braga and Rangers are two of the more unfancied sides in the draw, but in this half of the quarter-final draw, any team could go all the way to the final. Rangers have had some good nights in the Europa this season, beating Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade in the knockout phase. Braga, who beat Monaco in the round of 16, finished second to Red Star in their group. They are currently fourth in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, while Rangers are in a battle to regain the Scottish Premiership title they won in 2021.

The field is wide open, but GOTP’s prediction is a last four of West Ham v Barcelona and Leipzig v Rangers, with the final on May 18 in Sevilla being contested by Barcelona and Leipzig. On the other hand…