Rich Man, Poor Man


I recently read that David Sullivan, West Ham's joint chairman, was a tad unhappy about drawing Everton away in the Carabao Cup, not because of his club's lamentable record against the Toffeemen but because the travel arrangements and overnight stay will cost the Hammers in the region of £50k.

In pre-Covid days with a large income stream coming in, this would have been accepted as the norm. I know that even before the pandemic Pools were looking at cutting some of their overnight stays in the hope of saving a bob or two. Oh how the other half lives.

In the case of the Everton v West Ham fixture I am thinking that West Ham would be coached in to one of the London airports then fly to Manchester and stay in a top hotel. With the addition of the players and subs the entourage would also consist of the management team, directors, physios, masseurs, goal keepers, kit men, media people and a horde of others including the local parish priest.

When you look at that, including travel back to the hotel after an evening match, then the reverse trip the following day back down to that fishing village on the Thames, all in all I think that fifty grand is quite reasonable. Some Premiership clubs take in the region of forty to sixty personnel for an away fixture. Unreal and unnecessary.
"well, why not let them run to the next away ground then?"

If the Hammers, like many other clubs, are strapped for cash they should cut their cloth and look at coach or train travel - if it was good enough for Bobby Moore it should be good enough for these pampered Premiership puppies of today.

The clubs will cry out that these players are highly-primed athletes in the peak of physical condition - well, why not let them run to the next away ground then?

I believe it was Barnet or one of the other clubs in the M25 corridor that travelled by train to Hartlepool last season and because the train was overcrowded the players had to stand for the duration of the journey north. That didn't stop them playing Pools off the park and bringing the three points on the train back home with them.

This got me thinking of Pools' recent pre-season friendly games with our near northern neighbours and the logistics behind them. I would assume the club minibus would transport a few staff as well as the kit to the destination. The players would or should have car-shared to save the expense of a coach trip. That said because of the strange times that we now live in, coach operators could be desperate for business and offer the club a cut-price transport deal. The transport in question could vary of course from a Beamish Museum relic or an old blue AEC Hartlepool (Headland) double decker bus but if it gets you from A to B and on time what else could you want?

Getting back to West Ham and their fellow Premiership neighbours, they all could save a fortune by travelling on the tube. Now that would be funny: watching thick footballers try to negotiate the route to their final destination using the London Underground map. Imagine a post-match interview with Frank Lampard after a good thrashing at Vicarage Road, which might go something like this:

John Motson*:
Frank that was a terrible performance by your team today what do you think went wrong?

Frank Lampard:
I don't know John. On the day some of my players just didn't turn up.

John Motson:
And why do you think that is Frank?

Frank Lampard:
Engineering works at Baker Street perhaps?

John Motson:
But your team were all over the place.

Frank Lampard:
I cannot deny that John: Charing Cross, Oxford Circus and some as far away as Willesden Junction.

In these Covid times let's hope that the Premiership clubs get a reality check and bring themselves back into the real world and appreciate how many clubs in the lower leagues, even in normal times, live a hand-to-mouth existence on a daily basis.

* Apologies. I don't know any of the modern-day football commentators.

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