Justin Allen: Shelf-ish West Ham chief Sullivan shows he doesn’t live in real world with bizarre EFL supermarket analogy

DAVID SULLIVAN likened the Premier League to Tesco and the EFL as a small supermarket chain.

And the West Ham owner argued that the retail giants don’t pay out a subsidy to the little shops. he questions why should the top flight pour more money into the three lower divisions?

David Sullivan does not back the Premier League paying more to the EFL


David Sullivan does not back the Premier League paying more to the EFLCredit: Getty

I don’t know if Sullivan ventures much into our high streets.

But if he does, he will see that they have mostly been destroyed by retail giants. He will see boarded-up windows all over the place.

Little shops were, and still should be, at the heart of communities… as should our EFL clubs.

Sullivan can afford to shop at Harrods and Selfridges while most of us have to scour the shelves for bargains at Aldi or Lidl.

Just like West Ham can afford to pay more than £50million for Brazil international Lucas Paqueta while the EFL’s bottom club Sutton United are a team packed of freebies.

The Hammers chief does not seem to live in the real world – or appears at least detached from it.

Does he care much about the loss of things such as our independent greengrocers, butchers and bakers?

And does he give a damn about what has happened to clubs like Bury and Macclesfield as well as what is unfolding at Reading?


If he does, Sullivan should be front and centre of a Premier League campaign to safeguard the EFL for generations to come.

He should be sticking up for the little guys because once upon a time he himself heralded from humble beginnings.

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Sullivan was brought up in a council house and should understand the value of things.

The West Ham owner has rightly been receiving widespread stick for his ridiculous comments and has been accused of being selfish.

His remarks smacked of “I’m alright Jack, pull up the ladder”.

What Sullivan failed to mention is that EFL clubs, and non-league ones for that matter, are vital to the health of the Premier League.

I wonder if it dawned on him in Prague in May when West Ham lifted the Europa Conference League trophy that matchwinner Jarrod Bowen started his career in non-league with Hereford and then honed his skills in the EFL at Hull City.

And key frontman Michail Antonio also did the non-league yards with Tooting and Mitcham before touring the EFL with the likes of Reading, Cheltenham, Southampton when they were in League One, Colchester, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.

Without these clubs and lower divisions, neither player would have developed to become Premier League household names.

Sullivan’s central argument is against introducing an independent football regulator to clean up our national game – and oversee a fairer distribution of funds across all levels of football.

He believes that redistributing more funds out of the Premier League clubs’ ever-expanding coffers would threaten its status as the best football division on the planet.

EFL chief executive Rick Parry pointed out clubs dining at English football’s top table pay more than £2BILLION more in wages than the four other major European leagues.

Jarrod Bowen with the Conference League Trophy he won with West Ham


Jarrod Bowen with the Conference League Trophy he won with West Ham
West Ham's Jarrod Bowen started in non-league with Hereford


West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen started in non-league with Hereford
Michail Antonio also started his career in non-league and the EFL before West Ham


Michail Antonio also started his career in non-league and the EFL before West Ham

So the notion that the Premier League will somehow be overtaken by other countries is fanciful and for the birds.

What peeves me about the likes of Sullivan is his seemingly complete ignorance to the fact that the Premier League do not OWN our national game

They are simply top of a highly-successful English football pyramid system that has been around for more than a century,

Nowhere else in the world do you see a fourth-tier club like Bradford pulling in average gates of almost 18,000, apart from when Rangers were booted down to Scotland’s bottom division in 2012 of course.

Or do you see elsewhere a cup competition for third and fourth-division clubs (the EFL Trophy) that in recent years have seen attendances at Wembley finals of 85,021 in 2019 for Charlton v Portsmouth and 79,839 for Bolton v Plymouth last April?

Since the Premier League was formed in 1992, West Ham have only spent four seasons of the 32 in the second tier.

Sullivan has experienced relegation from the top flight in East London and twice while he co-owned Birmingham with the late David Gold.

So he knows first-hand how huge the disparity is between the Championship and Premier League.

Sullivan does not want the parachute payment system to stop.

Simple solution, David: manage your finances and contracts better then.

But something has got to give. It is not right that clubs like Leeds, Leicester and Southampton should this season have received around £55m each while the other Championship clubs, apart from those still getting parachutes, receive just £8.2million.

The West Ham owner does not think it is right for clubs like his to help those lower down the food chain who have mismanaged their finances.

But then he contradicts himself by saying parachute payments are “not big enough” to help support teams that get relegated. He argues going down to the Championship would be “horrendous”.

Well, simple solution, David: manage your finances and contracts better then.

All deals should have relegation clauses in them where wages MUST drop as a result. I’m afraid Premier League footballers should also start living in the real world.

If you fail, your wages must be cut accordingly.

The Premier League right now have an opportunity to avoid a regulator coming in – but they want to play with the ball all to themselves.

So I am afraid it’s time for an adult to enter the room, crack their heads together and tell them to play fairly with the others.

That will be the best way to make sure the EFL doesn’t turn into a little shop of horrors.

Bury fans during the run-up of the Shakers being booted out of the EFL in 2019


Bury fans during the run-up of the Shakers being booted out of the EFL in 2019
Macclesfield supporter protests about his club's woes


Macclesfield supporter protests about his club’s woes
The future of Reading is under threat


The future of Reading is under threat

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