Hammers play down financial concerns

Hammers play down financial concerns

West Ham have moved to play down concerns the club will be adversely affected by Icelandic bank Landsbanki going into administration.

The Iceland government yesterday took control of Landsbanki, the country’s second biggest bank, in order to stop it collapsing.

Hammers chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is a major shareholder in the bank and chaired the company until he was sacked yesterday.

Now chief executive Scott Duxbury and vice chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson have both moved to ease fears there may be repercussions for the Upton Park club.

Duxbury said last night: “The position of Landsbanki has absolutely no effect on West Ham United and Mr Gudmundsson’s ownership of the club.

“Mr Gudmundsson is an investor with a large portfolio, of which Landsbanki was just part. He remains as committed as ever to West Ham United and is not looking to sell the club.”

Duxbury told www.whufc.com: “As has previously been stated, Mr Gudmundsson has invested £40m (€51m) net in the playing squad to create a squad capable of challenging in the top half of the Premier League.

“Since his appointment, Gianfranco Zola has made it quite clear that his first-team squad is too large and needs to be reduced so he can effectively coach the team.

“Once this has happened and if the manager requires further players, then the club will acquire them.

“Mr Gudmundsson remains fully committed to the success of this football club and building on the excellent start made by Gianfranco Zola.”

Fridgeirsson backed up Duxbury, saying: “The government has claimed shares in the company which means that the government has claimed control. That means basically that we have lost it,” he told Sky Sports News.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to be too pessimistic. West Ham United is a wonderful club and a well-run company.

“This investment was very important for him, but not his only one.

“It is, of course, a blow for him and his financial strength, but he himself has a number of other investments that are doing quite well at the moment so there is no reason to fear that he will not honour his commitment to West Ham football club.

“He (Gudmundsson) is not absolutely sure how this will directly affect him, but one thing he is sure of is that this will have no implications on the other investments of him and his family.”

Last month the Hammers were left with a potential £5m (€6.4m) shortfall after the club’s shirt sponsor, XL, went bust.

Then, two weeks ago, an independent tribunal ruled against West Ham in the Carlos Tevez transfer affair, leaving them liable to a £30m (€38m) compensation claim.

The club have since revealed they intend to appeal against that decision.

Newspaper reports last weekend suggested that Indian billionaire Anil Ambani is poised to make a bid for the club.

Fridgeirsson admitted several parties were interested in buying the club, but said Gudmundsson had no plans to sell.

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