New chairman reassures fans over player sales

WITH rumours of Matty Upson and Rob Green s impending departure doing the rounds last week, West Ham s new chairman has moved quickly to pour cold water on the possibility of a firesale at the club. Andrew Bernhardt, debt finance manager at Icelandic asse

WITH rumours of Matty Upson and Rob Green's impending departure doing the rounds last week, West Ham's new chairman has moved quickly to pour cold water on the possibility of a firesale at the club.

Andrew Bernhardt, debt finance manager at Icelandic asset management company Straumur and majority shareholder in CB (Claret and Blue) Holdings, who have taken over the club, paid tribute to the way the club is being run.

"I have been so impressed with what has been achieved here in the last 12 months with a proper strategy that everyone has bought into.

"Gianfranco Zola has not even been at the club a year, yet he has put his indelible mark on a young, skillfuly, vibrant team."


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What the supporters want to know though, is whether their star names will be out of the exit door this summer.

Bernhardt promised fans they are not: "I can assure fans that Gianfranco absol-utely does not have to sell players for financial reasons and new players will be arriving in the summer to augment what is already a strong playing staff," he said.

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"No business likes to have debts, but with a �100million turnover, increased TV revenues and a focused commercial operation, the club is on a sound financial footing.

"The wage bill has been reduced and the settlement agreed with Sheffield United is budgeted for."

Bernhardt may state that he expects new signing to arrive at Upton Park, but he strongly hinted the vital part that the club's Youth Academy will be expected to play in the future.

"We totally support the philosophy of following the West Ham tradition of bringing young players through, as well as investing in new talent where appropriate," he said.

"But we also believe the club should not spend more than it earns and thus increase its debt.

"It seems pointless to invest in West Ham United's world famous academy, if you are then not going to use the players you have nurtured and developed."

So far, the new chairman at Upton Park seems to be saying all the right things.

His first real test may be persuading Upson that his future lies at West Ham, and that may be a job too far.

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