Magnusson steps down as West Ham chairman

September 18, 2007

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Billionaire Icelandic owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is to tighten his control of West Ham, the English Premier League club said on Tuesday as the club's executive chairman Eggert Magnusson stepped down.

'Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the club's owner, will continue to chair the club's holding board and this body will direct the overall strategy of the club,' West Ham said on its website.

The London club said Magnusson would move to a back seat role as non-executive chairman.

Former UEFA executive committee member Magnusson has been a figurehead at West Ham since he came in as part the Icelandic consortium which took over last November.

'I have enjoyed my time as Executive Chairman but feel the moment is right to stand back a little,' Magnusson said.

Gudmundsson, chairman of Icelandic bank Landsbanki, bankrolled the 85 million pounds ($169.5 million) buyout of the club but has since kept a low profile.

'We have worked hard to create stability and optimism sometimes in very difficult and trying circumstances. I think it is now important to broaden the management team,' he said.

'It is now vital for our longer term ambitions to become one of the leading clubs in England playing for honours both at home and in Europe that we strengthen the senior team at the club and build a truly professional management structure.'

West Ham are currently sixth in Premier League after narrowly avoiding relegation last season.