10 Years at West Ham: A Look Back at How Karren Brady Became Vice-Chairman

Some know her as Lord Sugar’s advisor on The Apprentice, but football fans and the business world also know Karren Brady as the vice-chairman of West Ham United. Brady has a distinguished career in the commercial side of football, which has earned her the nickname of The First Lady in Football. She has been vice-chairman of the Hammers’ club for ten years now. So, here is a look back at how Karren Brady arrived at that position.


Early Career

Despite being one of the most successful businesswomen in Britain, Karren Brady did not go to university. Instead, she joined the firm Saatchi & Saatchi when she was just 18 years of age. The advertising agency and global communications network is one of the most well-known in the world. Saatchi & Saatchi has been the creative force behind many business campaigns. For instance, the firm served the Sands China casino in Macau. You do not have to travel all the way to China to play casino games, though. Instead, simply check out this wide range of slots, table games, and other online casino games.


After her time at Saatchi & Saatchi, Brady moved on to the radio station LBC. She managed to persuade the owner of the Daily Sport, David Sullivan, to place £2 million-worth of advertising with the station. Sullivan was so impressed by Brady’s business skills, that he ended up hiring her for a job with his Sports Newspapers. Then, at the young age of 20, Brady became one of Sullivan’s company’s directors.


Birmingham City FC

After Karren Brady saw an advert in the Financial Times for the sale of Birmingham City FC, when the club was in receivership, she convinced Sullivan to purchase it and let her run it. Sullivan bought the club in 1993 with his partners David and Ralph Gold and did indeed let Brady run it. She was only 23 years of age when she became managing director of Birmingham City FC. After much success with the club, Brady left in 2009. Sullivan and the Gold brothers then sold Birmingham City FC for £81.5 million. In the same month that she left the club, Brady was appointed as a non-executive director to England’s 2018 World Cup bid advisory board.


West Ham United FC

Karren Brady’s partnership with David Sullivan did not end with Birmingham City. When Sullivan took control of West Ham in 2010, with David Gold, Sullivan appointed Brady vice-chairman, which is a position that involves the commercial side of the club. At the time, Brady wrote a newspaper column in which she addressed Hammers fans, promising that the club would hang in the Tower of London before it again goes through the financial turmoil that very nearly brought it down.


When Brady landed the job, she told Sullivan and Gold that she liked the idea of renaming the club West Ham Olympic. But Gold told her that, under his chairmanship, the club would always be named West Ham United. However, he suggested to Brady that she might call the Hammers’ new stadium West Ham Olympic Stadium. 


One of Brady’s biggest tasks at West Ham was to negotiate the club’s move from the Boleyn Ground to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London. Subsequently named London Stadium, Brady oversaw the transition to the new ground in the summer of 2016. The move saw West Ham increase its capacity from 35,000 seats to 57,000 seats. Each one of those seats sold out before the beginning of the Hammers’ first season at the new venue. That gave the club the third-largest home attendance in the Premier League that year. The season saw the Hammers taking their Europa League place, qualifying for the third round of the 2016-17 edition. West Ham United’s first season at the new ground was tough, but the club did manage to finish in 11th place.


Although she has had her ups and downs with the club in the last ten years, Baroness Brady has been an integral part of West Ham United’s survival. Whether she will last another ten years remains to be seen.


Image: PA Images