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Hammers say finance woes down to poor investments

West Ham's financial woes were laid bare last night when the club published their latest accounts.

For two years under the ill-fated Icelandic regime, wages totalled 80pc of their annual turnover, nearly 20pc higher than the Premier League average, and the club's decision to award Dean Ashton a new deal in December 2008 backfired, for example, leaving them liable for a £5.81m payment when injury forced him to retire in December.

The club's finance director, Nick Igoe, wrote in the accounts that the club's subsequent on-field performances were unsatisfactory after such major investment.

"It is a truism to observe that a club's playing success (and almost certainly long-term financial success) is largely dependent on how wisely it invests its available resources," he wrote. "It has to be concluded that many investment decisions in the last two to three seasons have been ill-judged.

"Two players (Kieron Dyer and Freddie Ljungberg) who signed in the summer 2007 transfer window, one of whom (Ljungberg) has since left the club, have started a combined total of 32 games and will have cost the group £34m over the term of their contracts.

"It follows that an eighth and 10th-place league finish, one Carling Cup last eight and one FA Cup last 16 represent an unsatisfactory return on this expenditure. Clubs with lower levels of expenditure on their squad have achieved a greater level of league and cup success."

The figures also reveal the major belt-tightening programme West Ham undertook last season to stave off financial meltdown.

The wage bill was reduced and they made £10.8m from player sales - but that accounted for less than a quarter of transfer spends from the previous two seasons.

The club's turnover was down to £76.1m and losses before tax were at £16.2m, but the club's £45m bank debt is not said to be "excessive" for a company with an annual turnover of £75-80m.