Hammers face rising bill

West Ham could be facing a £50m claim for damages from Sheffield United over the Carlos Tevez affair.

United were initially aiming to seek damages in the region of £30m but, after further legal advice, they are now reportedly set to increase it by a further £20m.

The Hammers may also face separate compensation claims from former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, now with Crystal Palace, and relegated players over loss of earnings.

But Blades chairman Kevin McCabe is apparently ready to give West Ham a lifeline by negotiating a deal that would allow the Hammers to pay by instalments.

McCabe insists the claim would be ’a sum of substance’, which is reported to be £50m, before adding: ’we’re producing our final figures’.

Sheffield United successfully argued West Ham won at least three points inspired by Tevez during the 2006-07 season, when the club did not comply with Premier League rules over his registration.

United insist this cost them relegation from the Premier League and millions in lost revenue. An independent tribunal ruled in their favour last month.

Meanwhile, reports suggest West Ham owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson could be ready to sell the club at a knockdown price after watching his assets slump in value.

The Icelandic owner is reported to have lost an estimated £230m of his personal fortune and could get rid of the club to a ’cash rich’ buyer.

Iceland’s banks are in turmoil following the global credit crunch and Gudmundsson had already lost a significant amount before Icelandic bank, Landsbanki, was nationalised.

He was axed as chairman of the bank and Gudmundsson may be forced to accept a reduced bid for the club in order to recoup some of his personal losses.

He has already said there would be no further investment in West Ham and that manager Gianfranco Zola would have to sell players before bringing in any new signings.

With no sign of the global cash crisis easing, it is now thought he is ready to put the club up for sale.

Indian businessman Anil Ambani, the sixth-richest man in the world, worth an estimated £24bn, has already been linked with buying the Hammers.

The 49-year-old billionaire who is head of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, the largest business house in India, is keen to get ownership of a Premier League club although there was growing speculation that several other potential owners are interested in West Ham.

West Ham insist they are largely unaffected by the situation in Iceland.

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