Tony Cottee has become the latest former West Ham player to back PAI Capital’s bid to buy the club.
PAI Capital, which is backed by the Azerbaijani millionaire Nasib Piriyev, remains determined to go ahead with its takeover, despite seeing its efforts dismissed by West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan. The consortium is planning to make an improved offer after seeing its opening bid of £400m rejected by Sullivan and has already enlisted the support of the former West Ham defenders Rio and Anton Ferdinand.
West Ham’s owners, Sullivan and David Gold, have branded the firm property developers rather than football people and have insisted that they will not sell to the consortium. Yet PAI Capital has continued to press ahead with its takeover plans, which also involve the former Queens Park Rangers chief executive Philip Beard. PAI announced that it had reached an agreement with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to take control of the London Stadium last week and hope that having Cottee, who scored 146 goals in 336 appearances for West Ham, on board will further its aims.
“I’ve been following the bid closely and have had detailed discussions with the PAI team recently. Having got to know the people involved and having had the opportunity to learn more about their plans, I’m pleased to announce that I’m fully behind PAI’s bid,” said Cottee. “Everyone knows how much this club means to me. I want the best for the West Ham players, the staff and the fans, and I’m confident that PAI will deliver on all fronts. We’ve spoken at length about what is needed – those discussions have included Rio, Anton and the rest of the bidding team – and we are all on the same page about what can be done.
“There is a real passion from everyone involved, and a confidence that we can reach the goals we have set out to achieve – the first one, of course, is getting the fans to believe in this bid. We want the fans to support this, and I’m hoping that I can help with that conversation.”
PAI Capital insists that it will invest in the London Stadium and the surrounding Olympic Park, although it has offered West Ham fans little clarity over its plans for the club and the squad. West Ham insiders say that they have not seen any proof of funds from the group.
“We approached Tony Cottee to come on board and are delighted to announce that this West Ham legend has joined the PAI Capital team and know he is keen to interact with fans immediately and articulate our vision while we focus on the details of our important second bid,” Piriyev said. “We think this appointment shows our true intentions and our desire to have nothing but a positive relationship with the fans.”