Zola to sign as banks move in

WEST HAM UNITED may take as long as three years to be sold, if, as expected, the club is taken over by troubled Icelandic investment bank Straumur, WRITES DAVE EVANS. Current chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is set to be removed from his post along with hi

WEST HAM UNITED may take as long as three years to be sold, if, as expected, the club is taken over by troubled Icelandic investment bank Straumur, WRITES DAVE EVANS.

Current chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is set to be removed from his post along with his deputy Asgeir Fridgeirsson, with a new chairman being appointed by the club's new creditors.

And that could certainly mean a tightening of the purse strings in the summer, as West Ham look to strengthen their squad.

The proposed takeover would see chief executive Scott Duxbury stay in his position and it will not affect the current talks between the club and manager Gianfranco Zola over a new four-year deal at the club.


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The Recorder understands that the Italian boss has agreed to sign, but is waiting for the contracts of his backroom staff - especially Steve Clarke and Gianluca Nani - to be concluded and signed before he commits pen to paper.

"The club is looking after us and we are talking about new four-year contracts and it's looking good," said Zola after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

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"Maybe it will happen during the next few weeks. The club has been very good to us and we appreciate that."

Zola and his staff have been kept firmly in the loop with regard to the bank takeover and any possible buy-outs by third parties. There are said to be two consortiums interested in the club - one from the middle east and one from the far east - but neither are anywhere near due dilligence, the natural step before an outright bid is made.

Figures of �85million for the club have been touted, but that is way below what the new controllers would consider selling at, and that means West Ham could remain a bank asset for as long as three years, or until the global economy picks up - whichever comes first!

The fact that Zola is happy to commit himself to the club though, suggests that the financial restraints are not going to be too draconian.

He knows he has to strengthen in the summer, especially if West Ham make it into Europe and he is keen to continue the work he has started so successfully at Upton Park.

"It was my dream and expectation to be high up the table," he revealed. "When you start something you have ambitions to achieve something really important, but you never know just where you are going to get or how close you'll come to getting what you want."

For West Ham fans, what they want is Zola and Clarke to be at the helm next season.

There may not be huge wads of cash to spend on new players, but if Nani can find some more young diamonds abroad, and if the youngsters at the club continue to flourish, then with the likes of Dean Ashton and Danny Gabbidon returning from injury, the picture may not be as bleak as it has been painted.

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