Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Relieved Sullivan Admits the Hard Work Begins Now; West Ham Co-Owner Planning a Summer Shake-Up as He Bids to Take Club Forward after They Narrowly Avoided the Drop, Writes Ken Dyer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Relieved Sullivan Admits the Hard Work Begins Now; West Ham Co-Owner Planning a Summer Shake-Up as He Bids to Take Club Forward after They Narrowly Avoided the Drop, Writes Ken Dyer

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Dyer

THE sleepless nights may have receded for the moment but the days are still just as busy for West Ham co-owner David Sullivan after a turbulent season at Upton Park.

It might only be a few days since the club effectively ensured their Premier League status with a 3-2 win against Wigan but Sullivan and fellow owner David Gold have already turned their attention to next season and beyond.

At the top of their priorities is their quest to attract new investors to help reduce the club's debt from its current level at [pounds sterling]90million. The former Birmingham City owners have each acquired a further five per cent of the club, generating another [pounds sterling]4m and reducing Icelandic investment bank Straumur's stake to 40 per cent. But there is still much to be done.

They will be looking to strengthen the squad, which struggled to survive this season, as well as moving players on.

They will continue to pursue their dream of moving into the Olympic Stadium at Stratford and they will be discussing the future of manager Gianfranco Zola. Busy times ahead then. And they started their attempts to revamp their squad today by bidding for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans.

Gold has already said he wants Zola to stay but intimated the Italian may feel differently. There has been no such public endorsement from Sullivan since taking control of the club in January.

Subsequent events may well have helped him make up his mind but as yet, with two matches still to be played, nothing has been decided.

Zola and Sullivan have undeniably had a prickly relationship in recent weeks but the pressure of the situation may well have played a part in that.

Now the situation is different, both men can take a step back and re-assess their positions in the knowledge that their club remains in the top division. "I am very relieved but realistic," said Sullivan. "Let's not kid ourselves, we haven't done well enough this season and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. …

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