Sullivan moves swiftly to settle Curbs debt

WEST HAM co-owner David Sullivan is certainly serious about getting the club s house in order. He moved swiftly this week to settle the outstanding compensation claim with former boss Alan Curbishley, and then initiated legal proceedings against the club

WEST HAM co-owner David Sullivan is certainly serious about getting the club's house in order.

He moved swiftly this week to settle the outstanding compensation claim with former boss Alan Curbishley, and then initiated legal proceedings against the club's former solicitors over the advice given concerning the Carlos Tevez situation.

The Curbishley issue was certainly the most straight-forward of the two. Whether West Ham had some mitigating circumstances in their sale of Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney supposedly behind the former manager's back certainly seems to have some merits, but after Curbishley had won his case, it was simply a matter of damage limitation for the club.

If the settlement figure of around �1.6million is to be believed, then the Hammers may consider they have got off fairly lightly. Initial estimates suggested that it could be as much as �3.2m, but Curbishley's desire to return to football may have influenced his decision to settle for less.

The former boss was certainly pleased to get it out of the way: "I would like to thank David Sullivan for acting quickly and concluding the settlement since his arrival at West Ham," he said.

"It has taken many months to conclude this case, but I am proud of my record at West Ham which included a win ratio of 40 per cent, after initially keeping the club in the Premier League and a 10th place finish in my only full season in charge."

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Despite those indisputable facts, Curbishley's reign as West Ham supremo will probably be regarded by most Hammers supporters as a disappointment.

The fans never took to Curbishley's formations and style of football, but there is no doubt that it was an effective one.

But it was his lack of ambition that was his handicap. Despite spending fortunes on top-quality players, his teams never lived up to their expectations and he considered a solid mid-table season as a success, when in reality, a side with the likes of Matty Upson, Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy and Freddie Ljungberg in it, should have been pushing towards the higher reaches of the Premier League,

Maybe, given the time and the chance to hold on to his players, Curbishley would have gone on to do just that, we will never know. But the league position under new boss Gianfranco Zola has not improved.

For Sullivan, it was a relief to get the deal done: "I am pleased this has all been settled," said the joint chairman. "We moved as swiftly as we could to resolve the matter in a positive manner with Alan and his representatives.

"As football people, we realised this had to be dealt with from a moral and legal point of view as quickly as possible. It was best to draw a line through what had gone on under the previous owners, allowing us to instead focus fully on out challenge of taking West Ham forward.

"Slowly, but surely, we are getting the club back on an even keel."

Sullivan's second task may be a more difficult one. Suing people, especially solicitors, over advice sounds like a legal minefield, but the joint chairman has had this in mind since the day he took control of the club, and now he has apparently begun formal proceedings.

Add to that the possibility that West Ham could take the FA to court to claim compensation for Dean Ashton's career-ending injury while on England duty, and it seems that the club will be spending plenty more time in the courts over the next year or so.

And as they have found to their cost, that rarely goes to plan!

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