Hammers mortgage £60m of TV money in bid to manage debts

West Ham have reached an agreement with an offshore lending company in the British Virgin Islands to borrow all £60million of their next season's Premier League television money in advance, Inside Sport can reveal.

The deal with the Vibrac Corporation was sealed six months ago on September 10, and the associated paperwork, which has been filed at Companies House, shows Vibrac have effectively become a 'payday loan' firm for the Hammers to help them manage their debts, which currently stand at a net £70m.

Astonishingly, one source claims the practice of mortgaging TV revenue is becoming 'really common in the Premier League'.

Betting on the future: West Ham owners David Gold (left) and David Sullivan

Betting on the future: West Ham owners David Gold (left) and David Sullivan

He added: 'We think there are six other clubs currently doing it.'

If West Ham retain their Premier League status as expected, their income from Premier League TV cash alone will be at least £60m in the 2013-14 season.

That is the maximum sum West Ham will be able to have advanced to them from Vibrac once safety is a mathematical certainty.

The club have already drawn a chunk of cash under the agreement, believed to be around £10m, and this has been used to help repay historic debt inherited when co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold bought the club three years ago.

The maximum sum West Ham could have drawn so far on the deal is £16m, which is the amount they are guaranteed to get from the Premier League next season in 'parachute' money, even if relegated this season.

Arguably the most extraordinary part of the Vibrac agreement is it illustrates that despite all the riches available to members of England's elite division, many clubs still need to borrow more to stay on top of their finances.

It is known that Southampton and Everton are among others who have used Vibrac in a similar fashion.

The most infamous example of a club borrowing big sums against future income was at Leeds under Peter Ridsdale in 2001 as they 'lived the dream'.

In that case, Leeds borrowed £60m against future gate receipts - and ended up in meltdown.

West Ham's debts topped £100m when Sullivan and Gold took over, and the latest available club accounts, for 2011-12, show Gold and Sullivan injected £32.2m of their own money in loans in that period.

This was in the wake of relegation in 2011 and helped fund their immediate return to the Premier League.

West Ham insiders stress that the Vibrac arrangement is simply a tool to help manage old debt, and not a sign of crisis.
Staying up?: For West Ham, Premier League survival is crucial

Staying up?: For West Ham, Premier League survival is crucial

The revelation that they set up the facility as recently as September does underline, however, why West Ham were at the forefront of campaigners within the League's 20 clubs to bring in spending restrictions on wages from next season.

Gold has openly argued on numerous occasions that rules are needed to save football clubs from themselves.

UEFA's £10m 'fine' over Champions League clash

Premier League clubs face losing more than £10million because matches in England, and not just their own, keep clashing with Champions League fixtures.

Europe's footballing rulers, UEFA, have written to the Football Association telling them the English game must stop playing matches on European club nights - in any division or cup - or face financial penalties.

The move, which could cost more than half of the Premier League clubs about £1m each in income, is especially ironic because UEFA are largely responsible for cluttering up the calendar with matches spread across more weeks than ever in the Champions League.

Champions: But English clubs are paying the penalty with UEFA

Champions: But English clubs are paying the penalty with UEFA

Every UEFA-affiliated nation is due €9m (£7.8m) from UEFA between 2012 and 2016, and all nations, England included, get extra sums if clubs are eliminated early from European club competitions.

This money is paid to the FA but then divided among the Premier League clubs not in Europe as 'solidarity' money.

The FA have now been warned against allowing matches in any competition on European club nights but the calendar makes such demands impossible to fulfill.

One reason - although not the only one - for Chelsea's FA Cup replay with Manchester United being played on a Monday is an FA attempt to appease UEFA.

One English football source said UEFA have already suspended solidarity cash to English clubs.

FA on full alert over claims of bets coup

Football's rulers have issued a national alert to all clubs in the Conference South following suspicious betting patterns on a match on Wednesday night.

In that game, promotion hopefuls Chelmsford suffered a shock 4-1 home defeat to relegation-threatened Hornchurch.

Sources say there was an extraordinary volume of bets, at odds of 9-1, on Hornchurch to be winning both at half-time and full-time against Chelmsford, who are sitting in the playoff places.

Under scrutiny: Martin Tuohy scores for Hornchurch against Chelmsford

Under scrutiny: Martin Tuohy scores for Hornchurch against Chelmsford

Hornchurch led at half-time and won, their goals including a penalty and a Chelmsford own goal.

Chelmsford's manager, Glenn Pennyfather, told his club's website: 'I hold my hands up and apologise to the supporters because that was as inept a performance as we've had. I'm bewildered, disappointed and embarrassed.'

The Gambling Commission issued an alert to the Football Association on Thursday to say they had concerns - and not just over that game.

'There has been a pattern of unusual events across a range of different teams and matches in that division this season,' said a source.

Some bookmakers have now stopped taking bets on games featuring Chelmsford, Hornchhurch or Billericay. Earlier in the season, others stopped taking any bets from that division featuring half-time/ full-time combinations or correct score wagers. The FA have asked all 22 clubs in the division if they have information about possible breaches of regulations, which forbid players or officials from gambling on games in which they are involved.

The Gambling Commission have asked anyone with information to come forward.

Chelmsford issued a statement saying they will 'continue to co-operate with enquiries ... We understand our responsibilities under the betting and integrity rules of the FA, and will be making no further comment on this matter.'