Interviews

Tony Cottee explains how close he came to running West Ham – and why he still feels guilty

Tony Cottee West Ham

Tony Cottee has told FourFourTwo that he feels partly responsible for the financial woes that afflicted West Ham under Icelandic ownership from 2006-10.

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Cottee was involved with the Icelandic consortium led by Eggert Magnusson that took over the Hammers in November 2006, the season in which the club narrowly avoided relegation with Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

Davids Sullivan and Gold eventually assumed 50% ownership of West Ham in January 2010, and gradually set about purchasing more shares over the next three years to take control. 

Former West Ham striker Cottee, who scored 115 league goals for the club over two stints (1982-88, 1994-96), has now revealed how close he came to running the Hammers after retiring.

Answering readers' questions in the November 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out Friday, he said: “I started a consortium in 2004. We'd just lost the play-off final and I thought, ‘Where is my club going?’ 

“But West Ham were promoted the season after, so the club then doubled in value. 

“I had four backers at £10m each, but I was £30 or £40m short. I needed a big backer, as well as the four West Ham fans.

“We stumbled on the Icelanders, Landsbanki. We had meetings, they said they were going to do it, then suddenly they said, 'We don’t need you – we’re going to do it all ourselves'. 

“It would have been fine if they had kept me involved. They had no football experience at all. Whoever takes over, you need football input.”

Despite being dropped by the investors, Cottee says he still feels partly responsibility for the financial mismanagement in the years that followed.

“People say it was a disaster when the Icelanders came in. Without me, they’d never have bought West Ham. 

“I have to accept responsibility – I started a chain reaction. When they went skint, David Sullivan and David Gold took over, then they left Upton Park.”

Read the full interview with Tony Cottee in the November 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from Friday (September 27). We have an exclusive sitdown with Jurgen Klopp via comedian John Bishop, head to Buenos Aires for another madcap Boca-River Superclasico, shine a light on the murky world of money laundering, catch up with forgotten man Adel Taarabt, go inside Wolverhampton Wanderers and much, much more. It’s a belter. 

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