Thursday, 29 November 2012

Spursgate v Watergate: What did they know & When did they start knowing it?

Forty years ago Howard Hunt (HH) put together a team of private investigators nicknamed the Plumbers to break into the Watergate hotel. An act that would turn into a massive cover up which ended the reign & career of President Richard Nixon. 

A few days after the break-in, Nixon was recorded saying,, "This fellow Hunt, he knows too damn much." 

Howard Hunt later put pressure on the White House  for cash payments to cover legal fees, family support, and expenses, for himself and his fellow burglars

In 2011 another HH (Howard Hill) is alleged to have put together a team of private investigators to obtain phone records belonging to West Ham Vice Chairman Karren Brady.

These phone records were passed to Tottenham Hotspur's lawyers in early March 2011, although Spurs continue to claim that it did not receive copies itself.

At a high court hearing in 2011 lawyers for Karren Brady and West Ham won an order requiring accountants PKF, hired by Spurs to conduct "due diligence" on the first bidding process for the Olympic Stadium, to hand over "unlawfully obtained" copies of Brady's itemised phone bills.

Spurs lawyers were gathering material for a possible judicial review, which eventually reached court in October 2011 but was then halted in its tracks when the government and the OPLC pulled the plug on their deal with West Ham and Newham council in the face of delays caused by legal challenges from Spurs.

The records are believed to show details of phone calls between Brady and OPLC board members, including the then chief executive Andrew Altman.

In his witness statement the Spurs finance director Matthew Collecott said: "I understand [Howard] Hill produced Brady's phone records to the lawyers. When asked he confirmed they had been received anonymously. The lawyers claim they made it clear to Howard Hill it was imperative that all investigations were carried out within the law."  

Matthew Collecott confirmed that PKF was engaged in February 2011 to carry out "due diligence" on the process. Spurs were concerned details of their tender for the Olympic Stadium had been leaked.

West Ham's legal counsel, said his reading of Matthew Collecott's desciption of the sequence of the events was that Howard Hill was being painted as a "rogue agent" who had "exceeded his authority". Both PKF and Howard Hill claimed not to know where the phone bills came from, saying they had been sent anonymously.

"I did not attach any significance to Howard Hill's reference to receiving telephone records," claimed Matthew Collecott.

The 2011 court case brought by West Ham heard an individual calling themselves "Thomas Brady" with a fictional West Ham email address had managed to obtain Brady's itemised Vodafone mobile phone bills from its customer services department.

PKF claimed not to know where the documents had come from and said that its partner Howard Hill had claimed the telephone records arrived "in the proverbial brown envelope".

Howard Hill admitted passing the records to the Sunday Times, which used them as part of the basis for an article. Hill later apologised to the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, after the Sunday Times article appeared, the court was told.

The judge had described how West Ham and Brady were given the "traditional runaround" by Spurs and PKF as they attempted to establish whether the phone bills existed and who had access to them. 

Yesterday (Wednesday 28th November 2012) Howard Hill along with Richard Forrest & Lee Stewart finally appeared in court charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

They were all bailed to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 1 February 2013

It is claimed that Howard Hill, a former partner at accountancy firm PKF, employed private investigators to get the information while Tottenham Hotspur FC were bidding for the stadium.

In the seventies the New York Times asked  'What did Nixon Know & When Did He Know It?'

I would like to ask that same question to Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy and finance director Matthew Collecott.

Will this turn out to be Spursgate?  I guess we might find out in February next year.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Safe Standing at the Olympic Stadium with West Ham

On Thursday evening my I joined Sports Tonight TV on Sky Channel 498 via Skype to askark Palios, the former FA Chief Executive and West Ham Chairman David Gold a question on Safe Standing.

Like I said in my question on you tube linked above, I am  an old South Bank terrace boy, I now stand in front of my seat in Sir Trevor Brooking Lower at every game like everyone else in Sir Trevor Brooking lower.

However I understand other parts of the Boleyn West Ham fans are asked to sit down or face eviction from the ground.

The law says football clubs must have a seat for each fan. It doesn't say the fan must sit down in it.

The football league rules say fans must sit down when matches are being played and clubs can eject any fan that doesn't comply.

This is enforced differently from club to club, ground to ground and in some cases like West ham it is different from stand to stand.

I believe it is time that the government, the FA and clubs should re-look at these rules.

I also support the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) campaign for Safe Standing.

This is the Safe Standing Roadshow

It is interesting that David Gold says he will consider Safe Standing at the Olympic Stadium should West ham get it.  I would certainly apply for a stand standing area season ticket.

Other Safe Standing quotes related to West Ham

“We actually wish we could have fans like that back in England who stand up behind the goal and sing all the way through, fantastic atmosphere really enjoyed it.” West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce after his team visited Dynamo Dresden

I am in favour of safe standing the key is in the title 'safe'. DG” West Ham United co-owner David Gold on twitter

“In this world the customer has the right to choose and if some fans would prefer to stand, fair enough.” West Ham United chief executive and vice chairman Karen Brady

My question prompted a small piece in The Guardian over the weekend

You tube Video on Safe Standing

Saturday, 17 November 2012

West Ham Supporter Advisory Board Update

I attended last Monday's West Ham Supporter Advisory Board along with over 100 other members on the 124 strong advisory board.

The full power-point presentation from the evening can be found on the link below,,12562~178571,00.pdf

Special Guest

Surprise guest of the night was Sam Allardyce who spent around one hour doing a private Q&A with SAB members. My question to Big Sam started with a statement. I said ' I am sure you are aware you weren't everyone's cup of tea when you were appointed but hopefully I speak for the majority of West Ham fans when I say you did a bloody good job last season and your start to this season is none too shabby either' The statement was received with a round applause for Sam's achievements. My following question was 'It is rumoured you entered into a two year contract, if this is true have you started re-negotiating with the board to extend your time as West ham manager'

Sam smiled and said 'It is a 2 year contract which expires at the end of this season but negotiations had not started yet' he then hinted that West ham needed to be sure they had secured premiership survival before a proper deal could be done.

SAB Myths

I know many think the SAB is full of hand picked supporters who agree with the club, or that it is some kind of secret society with funny hand shakes. Others think it is a marketing gimmick that gives lip service to fans views only and is a waste of time.

The club are very clear, it is not and was never intended to be a Supporters Trust. The club is not a democracy and not trying to be like AFC Wimbledon.

However the two Davids understand it is a very stupid business that doesn't listen to it's customers and the advisory board is there to do just that, feed back views of customers who will vote with their custom on match days, season tickets and purchases in the club shop.  

If you attended any of the SAB meetings you would instantly know the hand picked accusation is a complete myth as well. There are plenty of SAB members who don't see eye to eye with the club on a numbers of issues. The idea of the SAB as puppets with the two Davids pulling the strings is frankly laughable. Membership of the SAB includes two committee members of WHUSVIEW who are opposed to the move to the Olympic Stadium.

The Olympic Stadium was not discussed on Monday as the discussions are still at a delicate stage and the club are under strict confidentiality restrictions. However we were promised an emergency SAB meeting when the decision is made (which ever way it goes!)

As for the SAB having no teeth and just a marketing ploy to pay lip service to the fans here are twenty of the things SAB involvement helped changed last season.

1) The 20% discount  for STH promised by previous owners was bought to the attention of the West Ham board by the SAB. The SAB asked us the board to honour the promise.

2) The SAB were consulted on membership and benefits and the (0-6) year membership was launched earlier this season as a result

3) Request for a token gift for ST holders like members. West Ham Pin badges being sent out this season.

4) Viagogo deal came as a result of the SAB to allow STH to sell back tickets.

5) 2 for £20 T Shirt range extended after SAB feedback

6) By the Fans for the Fans extended from SAB feeback

7) Season Ticket holders ability to upgrade to Corporate without re-purchase 

8) Junior ST holders mascots and Christmas party. There will be another one this year.

9) SMS for poor behaviour to be on big screen and in programme

10) More Bubble machines

11) Season Ticket holders Bar (trialed  but unsuccessful) Looking at it again.

12) New Mascot Hammerhead (SAB ‘less scary’ comments effected final look)

13) Brand – ‘Forever United’ was too generic and didn't focus on heritage so it was dropped due to SAB feedback

14) Moore than a Football Club was chosen as new brand from SAB feedback

15) More focus on the crossed Hammers/Irons from SAB feedback

16) Armed Forces offer – this scheme is now up and running

17) More links with Bobby Moore Fund and family

18) Looking into West Ham Loyalty scheme 

19) Move from pints to bottles in bars to speed up serving times

20) Ability for STH to bring along friends at discounted rates and site next to them

New SAB Format in the coming year

Going forwards the SAB will concentrate on four areas with sub groups outside any OS decision which will would involve the whole SAB membership. 

Media Group (New website, fan blog writer, twitter, facebook and research)

Community/Charity (benchmarking, what more could be done, Bobby Moore Fund)

Season Ticket/Membership benefits (research other products, what would we like to add e.g. extra priority day, pack content)

Match day Experience

Names of The 2012/13 Supporter Advisory Board
Keith Alder-Barber
Stuart Allen
Graeme Archer
Satvir Atkar
Steven Barlow
Tony Barritt
Catherine Bayford
Rachel Beagles
Daniel Bloom
Jack Boteler
Tim Boughen
Peter Bruce
Steve Burton
Peter Caton
Will Cheeld
Neil Clack
Daniel Clement
Marcus Clement
David Clements
Andy Connacher
Tina Cowen
Lesley Craig
Colin Crowe
Michael Crowhurst
Stuart Dean
Jill Dower
Tom Dowsett
Neil Duggan
Kevin Dunckley
Gavin Dunstan
Dee England
Saul Ettridge
Michael Evans
Tricia Evans
John Farren
Rob Ford
Paul Fox
Richard Francis
Michelle Gabriel
Jonathan Gaffney
Paul Gibson
Sherrie Goldsmith
David Hall
David Halston
Tony Harries
Graham Hatt
Benjamin Hawkes
Ian Henderson
Jack Hess
Graham Howlett
Craig Hughes
Peter Hunt
Anthony Hyams
Deniz Jaffer
Steve Joyce
Nigel Kahn
Diane Keleghar
John Kemp
Warren Kober
Adrian Leahy
Victor Lindsell
John Llewellyn
Phil Llewellyn
Kevin Markham
Ryan Marsh
Steve Marsh
Neil Martin
Dan Mason
Suzanne Mason
Gerry McCarthy
Norman McGuire
Steve Medhurst
Antoni Miziolek
Darren Morgan
Colin Morris
John Norman
Michael Nuciford
Leigh O'Connor
Cecilia O'Herlihy
Wallace Onnie
John Parry
Jonathan Penfold
Eamon Quinn
Kevin Radley
Paul Reynolds
Paul Richardson
Pete Richardson
Jason Rose
James Rutherford
Steve Ryder
Nigel Salvage
Nick Scott
Barry Shelton
Stuart Slaney
Mark Steele
Terry Stokes
Ben Surdeau
John Sussex
Dave Tate
Mark Taylor
Kishan Teli
Simon Thomson
Eleanor Tilley
Mark Tilley
Stephen Todd
Stephen Trowers
Kathryn Upton
John Walker
Ian Wearne
Sean Whetstone
Anne-Marie White
Peter Whitelock
Nick Wood
Richard Wood
Ali Worth
Ian Wicks
Trevor Wisdom
Daniel Yallop
John Yewman
Jason Zammit

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Who scored a hat-trick against 3 different goalkeepers?

On 21st April 1986 in the old Division 1 at Boleyn Ground West Ham beat Newcastle 8 goals to 1!
It is a pub quiz teaser that still baffles everyone except West Ham United fans.
Who scored a hat-trick against three different goalkeepers? 
Answers on a post card!
Of course the answer is Alvin Martin's amazing triple in the 8-1 victory over Newcastle United. 
"It's not often that a centre-half gets a hat-trick and that was probably the worst one anybody has ever scored," confessed the modest Alvin Martin. "But it's in the record books!"
Flying high in fifth spot at the time, John Lyall's soaring side may have gone into the game as favourites, but Willie McFaul's tenth-placed team had just left a massive dent in Chelsea's championship aspirations following their 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge two days earlier.
Some conspiracy theorists later alleged that the Tynesiders' capitulation had been caused by their over-zealous celebrations in the Blackmore pub owned by their London-born skipper - and future Hammers boss - Glenn Roeder.
 But it was obvious to the 24,735 inside Upton Park that their goalkeeper Martin Thomas, who had sat it out at Chelsea with a shoulder injury, was simply still not fit.
On-loan from Hibernian, his replacement David McKellar had damaged his hip at the Bridge and the reluctant Magpies' goalkeeper had no option but to take his place back between the sticks. Within five minutes, he was picking the ball out of the net after Martin volleyed home Alan Devonshire's free-kick into the six-yard box.
The hapless Thomas was then beaten by speculative long-rangers from Ray Stewart and Neil Orr before Roeder inexplicably flicked the ball into his own net. With both his shoulder and pride hurting profusely, Thomas failed to emerge for the second period.

Rookie midfielder Chris Hedworth pulled on the green jersey for the restart but he was soon in trouble, too, after falling awkwardly and cracking his collarbone.
Midway through the half, Martin headed in Tony Gale's flick-on following Mark Ward's corner and as the brave Hedworth returned outfield before subsequently retiring, Peter Beardsley donned the gloves. Although Billy Whitehurst pulled one back for the visitors, Paul Goddard and Frank McAvennie then made it 7-1.
"I only came out to buy a loaf of bread!" bewildered, beleaguered and battered defender John Bailey famously shouted to the South Bank as he guarded his third goalkeeper of the night in readiness for another Hammers' bombardment. Sure enough, with six minutes left, the handling Roeder gave Martin the chance to claim the match ball and make it 8-1 to the Hammers, who were destined to go on and finish their best-ever campaign in third spot.
Despite his later claims that his England team-mate was Beardsley was pulling funny faces at him, the Mexico 86-bound Scouser successfully stroked in from the spot.
"Our normal penalty man Ray Stewart had picked up the ball to take the kick but once the crowd started chanting my name, it became embarrassing not to have it," wrote Martin in Boys of '86. "Afterwards, John Lyall said that goal difference could have counted come the end of the season and that we should have been more professional and still let Ray take it. Everyone was saying: 'C'mon John, it was 7-1 and it was his first hat-trick' I think he went a bit too far that night!"
West Ham United Team on that Day: Parkes, Stewart, Parris, Gale, Martin, Devonshire, Ward, Orr, Dickens (Goddard 80) Cottee, McAvennie
Here is the Youtube video of that magic day

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A week in the life of the Olympic Stadium Pantomime

What a week in the Olympic Stadium Pantomime and it is not even the Christmas season yet!

So first story of the week told the future of the Olympic Stadium retractable seating £200 million rebuild was reported to be thrown into doubt after Old Eton boy George Osbourne in the Treasury ruled out handing any of the £377 million London 2012 surplus over to Old Eton boy Boris Johnson for the project. This would leave a £120 Million hole in the current rebuild budget.

Hot on the heels of that story was that NFL American Football franchise would gazump West Ham to be anchor tenants of the Olympic Stadium. Bizarre story as the bidding process is closed and I sure a third bidding process would be required to make this legal.

Although the Daily Mail later claimed West Ham would share the OS with NFL.

Now today news has been reported in the Independent that West Ham have bid £8.08M per year for the 99 year lease committing us to £880M over 99 years.

To me this is the most concerning of all three stories if true. The richest club in the world Man City pay £3 Million per for their 50,000 capacity state owned stadium and make £8 Million per year profit from the naming rights. However if the Independent story is true we as one of the most debt laden clubs will pay £8M per year with no rights to the naming rights, catering rights or rental from other tenants.

Doesn't sound like a good deal to me (if true)

The result of the bidding process is expected on the 5th December.

Here is a link to my previous post on the Olympic Stadium Story So Far