Premier League - Gold-Sullivan take over Hammers

Tue, 19 Jan 08:31:00 2010

David Gold and David Sullivan have completed the takeover of West Ham United and want the new Olympic Stadium to be the club's future home.

West Ham United's new joint Chaiman David Sullivan (l) and David Gold - 0

Icelandic bank Straumur said it had sold CB Holdings' 50 per cent stake in the club to the former Birmingham City owners.

Sullivan and Gold take immediate operational and commercial control after a deal that valued the club at £105 million. They have bought half the club's shares for £52.5m and have an option to purchase the remaining 50 per cent.

Gold moved quickly to quell speculation about the future of manager Gianfranco Zola while outlining his ambitions for the club who are entrenched in a relegation battle.

"Categorically he's staying," Gold said. "I will sit down with him tonight to work on some transfer targets.

"We are West Ham fans, we have a seven-year plan to get them into the Champions League and turn them into a big club.

"We hope we can persuade the government to let us move to the Olympic stadium which is in the same borough. It's a natural home for West Ham United."

The long-term use of the 2012 Olympic Stadium is still unclear although London's winning bid for the Games stipulated that an athletics track would remain with the capacity of 80,000 scaled down to 25,000, a potential stick-point for a top-flight soccer club.

While a move away from their traditional Upton Park home is a long-term project, the more pressing concern for West Ham fans will be the club's precarious league position.

They are 16th in the table with only goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone. One leading British bookmaker on Monday suspended betting on Zola becoming the next Premier League manager to be sacked.

Sullivan backed the managerial set-up of Zola and former Chelsea assistant coach Steve Clarke, saying the goal was to stabilise the club after the uncertainty over its financial situation since the collapse of Iceland's banking system.

"Our first priority has to be securing the Premier League status of West Ham... the long-term aim will be to put the club on a stronger financial footing," Sullivan said.

"West Ham need stability after all the recent upheavals. We appointed four managers and parted company with two at Birmingham in 16 years. We believe in our managers and give them the time and support they need."

Karren Brady, the former managing director of Birmingham and one of the country's most high-profile businesswomen, joins Gold and Sullivan at Upton Park as vice chairman.

West Ham were acquired by CB Holding, a unit of Iceland's bailed-out Straumur-Burdaras bank, in June.

That takeover followed the collapse of the business empire of former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, who bought West Ham in 2006 for about £85m and who had borrowed heavily from the Icelandic bank.

Straumur, a major lender to Gudmundsson's holding company, was taken over by Iceland's financial authorities in March.

Sullivan and David and Ralph Gold sold Premier League Birmingham City to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung in October. Gold and Sullivan were among a clutch of suitors for the east London club.

Tony Fernandes, the CEO and founder of AirAsia, was among the interested parties but his bid was reported to have floundered when he failed to gain the 100 percent ownership he was seeking.

"Deal lost on West Ham. Hopefully, new owners protect what's good. We gave awesome deal and new ideas to rejuvenate a club,'" Fernandes posted on his Twitter social networking site.

Reuters

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