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.

West Ham United’s best XIs… or are they?

WEST HAM UNITED have a well-earned reputation for producing great players, but rarely have they conjured up an outstanding team. Only occasionally has it all come together to produce a side capable of challenging for honours. Consistency, as well as limited resources, has always been an issue for West Ham, hence they have never challenged for the league title, with the exception of the 1985-86 season. Largely, though, the Hammers’ greatest successes have been in cup competitions, although it is now more than 40 years since they won the FA Cup in 1980.

Nevertheless, West Ham are one of English football’s great community clubs, representative of the east end of London just as much as Pearly Kings and Queens, pie and mash and Jellied Eels and well-worn songs like “Knees up Mother Brown”. The Boleyn Ground was one of the most atmospheric stadiums in Britain and the Hammers’ fans were among the most partisan in the country. They might not have had a lot to cheer about in terms of trophies won, but West Ham have had a catalogue of outstanding footballers to entertain them, including the World Cup triumvirate of Moore, Hurst and Peters, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Billy Bonds, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard (senior and junior) and Joe Cole.

Here’s three of West Ham’s most notable teams:

1922-23 FA Cup finalists at the inaugural Wembley final

The Hammers were a second division club when they reached the 1923 final to meet Bolton Wanderers from the top flight. West Ham won promotion in 1922-23 and they were fortunate to reach Wembley without coming up against a first division outfit. The story of the White Horse Final and crowds spilling onto the pitch are well documented, but it is arguable that the attendance was so huge because a London team was in the final, although West Ham’s average gates at the time were barely 20,000. In the FA Cup, the Hammers beat Hull City, Brighton, Plymouth Argyle, Southampton and in the semi-final, Derby County. West Ham were a fast-moving and enterprising team who were committed to attacking play. Their manager, Syd King, was something of a character with his close-cropped hair and flamboyant moustache. King had played for Thames Ironworks, New Brompton and Northfleet before arriving at West Ham. He managed West Ham from 1902 to 1932, an astonishing 30-year period that ended with the sack.

West Ham 1923: Ted Hufton, Billy Henderson, Jack Young, Sid Bishop, George Kay, Jack Tresadern, Dick Richards, Billy Brown, Vic Watson, Billy Moore, Jimmy Ruffell.

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Key men

Vic Watson: Born in Cambridgeshire 1897. Long-serving centre forward who played almost 500 league games for West Ham, scoring 298 goals. Prolific in front of goal, he won five caps for England, scoring four times. Once scored six goals in a game in 1929.

George Kay: Captain and defensive hub of the team, he was 31 when the Hammers reached Wembley in 1923. Played for the club from 1919 to 1926, making over 250 appearances. He had spells with Distillery and Bolton Wanderers before joining West Ham. But for bouts of ill-health, Kay could have won an England cap.

Jimmy Ruffell: Left winger who joined West Ham from the Ilford Electricity Board and eventually made around 550 appearances for the club, scoring 166 goals. A difficult player to play against, Ruffell was capped six times by England.

West Ham United 1964-65 First Team with the F.A. Cup and the F.A. Charity Shield

1963 – 1965 FA Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup winners

Ron Greenwood was appointed manager of West Ham in 1961 and brought a very distinct philosophy to the club. He was heavily influenced by the Hungarians that thrashed England in 1953 and 1954 and a big student of the European game. By the mid-1960s, West Ham had a squad that included some richly talented young players and they were forging a reputation for delightful, purist football that entertained the crowds. Although this wasn’t always successful, they were always capable of raising their game for big clashes, such as in 1964 when they beat FA Cup holders Manchester United 3-1 in the FA Cup semi-final. In the final, they trailed 1-0 and 2-1 to second division Preston North End, but ran out 3-2 winners, thanks to a goal from Ronnie Boyce. Into Europe the following season, the Hammers slalomed their way past Gent (Belgium), Spartak Praha Sokolovo, Lausanne Sport and Real Zaragoza. Their opponents in the final were TSV Munich 1860 and the venue was Wembley stadium. Alan Sealey proved to be the hero of the hour and scored two goals in a three-minute spell in the second half to win the game 2-0. A year later, West Ham skipper Bobby Moore was back at Wembley as England captain, winning the World Cup, completing a unique treble.

West Ham 1963 – 1965: Jim Standen, Joe Kirkup, Jack Burkett, Martin Peters, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Alan Sealey, Ron Boyce, Geoff Hurst, Brian Dear, John Sissons, John Bond, Eddie Bovington, Peter Brabrook.

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Key men

Bobby Moore: Born 1941, Barking. An England legend who led his country to World Cup success in 1966. Won 108 caps for England and was Sir Alf Ramsey’s “right hand man” during the World Cup campaign.  A cool, calm defender whose leadership skills and immaculate timing made him one of the all-time greats. Died tragically young at 51 and was sadly underused when his playing days ended at Fulham.

Geoff Hurst: Born 1941, Ashton-under-Lyne. Scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final and played over 500 games for the Hammers between 1958 and 1972 and was capped 49 times by England. Converted from wing half to inside forward, Hurst was good in the air and explosive in front of goal. Left the club to join Stoke City in 1972.

Martin Peters: Born 1943, Plaistow. A player who Sir Alf Ramsey considered to be “ten years ahead of his time”. An elegant performer, capable of playing in midfield or as a forward, he won 67 caps for England, winning a World Cup medal in 1966 and scored in the final. Left West Ham in 1970 in a cash plus swap  deal, joining Tottenham for £ 200,000. One of the last “boys of ‘66” to retire.

1985-86 – So near yet so far

The 1980s were dominated by Liverpool and for a few years, Everton also emerged as title contenders. In 1985-86, West Ham came from nowhere to challenge at the top of the table, thanks to a team that was schooled in the fine arts that were so typical of the club’s ethos. It helped that they had two strikers who were “on fire” for a season or so, Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie. West Ham’s squad, managed by John Lyall, was relatively small compared to their title rivals, but their two forwards scored over 50 goals between them. With a bigger squad, West Ham might have beat off the Merseyside duo, but it wasn’t to be. West Ham won eight of their last 10 games, including an 8-1 trouncing of Newcastle, but they had to settle for third place, finishing only four points off top spot. They have never been as close to becoming champions.

West Ham 1985-86: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Steve Walford, Tony Gale, Alvin Martin, George Parris, Alan Devonshire, Mark Ward, Alan Dickens, Neil Orr, Tony Cottee, Frank McAvennie.

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Key men

Tony Cottee:  Young striker who was born in Forest Gate. Had two spells with West Ham and won seven England caps. A diminutive figure, he was nevertheless a prolific goalscorer and had plenty of pace. He was named young player of the year in 1985-86 after scoring 26 goals. Left the club in 1988 to join Everton for a fee of £ 2.2 million.

Frank McAvennie: A mercurial player who had an outstanding campaign in 1985-86, scoring 28 goals. Signed from St. Mirren in 1985 and despite his initial success at West Ham, he returned to Scotland to join Celtic. Returned to West Ham in 1989, but he was never as effective. A very talented player whose lifestyle arguably prevented him from achieving greater things.

Alvin Martin: Liverpool-born centre half who became part of West Ham folklore. A commanding player who captained the team in 1985-86. He played for the Hammers between 1978 and 1996, making almost 600 appearances for the club. Netted a hat-trick against Newcastle in 1986, scoring past three goalkeepers.

West Ham’s current squad ranks among their best in recent times, but they are competing in a very tough environment. They may play in front of over 50,000 for the first time in their history, but they are part of a small group of clubs that are battling to gain a place in the top four or five in the Premier League. They are back in Europe, which is a sign of their progress in recent years, but the next step may be the hardest. Whatever happens, one thing is certain, they’ll be forever blowing bubbles at the London Stadium!