Sullivan: We're paying Carroll's wages out of our own pockets... We want the best team because we are West Ham fans

I have a say

Posted Friday, September 21, 2012 by Dailymail

The last owner of West Ham who also owned a bank took the football club to the brink of administration.

But when David Sullivan says he owns a bank, and it is a bank in one of the prime locations on the Monopoly board, what actually goes on inside, and beyond in the global banking world, is not his concern. ‘I own the building,’ says Sullivan. ‘It’s the Lloyd’s Bank on Oxford Street actually. I own a shoe shop on Oxford Street too. And a mobile phone shop.’

Once rated the 68th richest man in Britain with assets valued at more than £500million, he has an  impressive property portfolio. He owns ‘a huge Sainsbury’s’ that pays him £3million a year in rent as well as a ‘couple of Marks & Spencers’. Just the buildings, you understand, which the retail giants rent from him. There is ‘a big chunk of central Bath around the Roman Baths’ that belongs to Sullivan. Not to mention 100 sex shops.

Sullivan: We're paying Carroll's wages out of our own pockets... We want the best team because we are West Ham fans
Property king: David Sullivan relaxes at his opulent home

He made his money in the sex industry, starting out in mail order with a couple of carefully placed advertisements in the colour supplements of the more upmarket Sunday newspapers. ‘I sold a love-making manual called The XYZ of Love,’ he says. ‘Back in the early Seventies it was making me six grand a week, a lot of money in those days.’

It might not have been what his lecturers had in mind when they taught him economics at Queen Mary College in London, but Sullivan clearly has a knack of making money. He breaks from this interview to take a quick phone call at his desk in his sumptuous Essex home, earning £10,000 in 20 seconds during a conversation with his broker. ‘That won’t even pay a football agent but it’s still 10 grand I didn’t have a minute ago,’ he says with a twinkle in his eye.

It would enable him to buy some state-of-the-art home entertainment equipment. As well as Victorian racing trophies and some rather spooky waxwork figures, Sullivan’s home is littered with old TVs and video recorders. ‘
I’m not very technical,’ he says. ‘I still can’t send a text message. I bought that telly because it was brilliant for Teletext. I used to love Teletext.’

He does seem to laugh an awful lot. He complains of being ‘absolutely knackered after the transfer window’ but he talks about his life, and about his passion for the football club he part-owns with his long-time friend and business partner David Gold, with infectious enthusiasm.

He also seems keen to stress that he is no longer in the sex industry. ‘The internet finished my old business,’ he says. ‘I’m in the property business now. The sex shops don’t make a penny. I keep them going to provide employment to the two or three hundred people who have worked for me. As long as they don’t have to come to me for money to subsidise the business I will keep them open.

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