Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson

Daily Telegraph

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the West Ham owner, will ask for an extension from the court of three months and has prepared a series of reports detailing plans to restructure the companies.

It will be argued that the value of Hansa's assets, of which West Ham is a key component, is above the claims of the creditors. The court is not expected to make any decision over Hansa until next week, though club sources maintain that the outcome of the hearing will not force any immediate sale of the club.

West Ham's ownership is complicated but, though Hansa is the holding company, West Ham United Holdings Ltd and West Ham United plc are also within the structure.

West Ham United plc is regarded as the member organisation by the Premier League, meaning that the possibility of a sporting sanction against the team could not be considered in respect of any financial issues relating to the holding company.

Negotiations over prospective takeovers have stepped up in recent weeks and it is understood that the interested parties include an Asian consortium.

However, West Ham have not yet received an acceptable offer, while no group has reached the stage of due diligence.

Gudmundsson was significantly affected by the economic crisis in Iceland, but the club are financially "firewalled" and were true to their pledge during the January transfer window of not selling players in order to finance any Hansa debts.

Indeed, on the pitch, there has been considerable progress under Gianfranco Zola, with European qualification still possible.

West Ham face Wigan on Wednesday in the Premier League, but will be without midfielder Valon Behrami after he was carried off the pitch with an oxygen tank after badly twisting his knee in Sunday's win over Manchester City.

His absence will mean the probable return of Mark Noble after suspension, though James Collins (hamstring), Luis Boa Morte (groin), Kieron Dyer (calf), Danny Gabbidon (stomach/back) and Dean Ashton (ankle) remain sidelined.

With Wigan one place and one point behind West Ham in seventh, the outcome of tonight's match could determine a possible Uefa Cup place for either club.

"A win will consolidate seventh place, which at the moment looks good enough for a Uefa Cup spot," said midfielder Jack Collison. "That is the target the manager, Gianfranco Zola, has set us. We have got 10 or 11 games now until the end of the season and we are going to look to kick on now rather than see the season out."

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