Hammers allay fears over Icelandic banking crisis

October 7, 2008

West Ham's vice chairman has moved quickly to allay fears that the club will be affected by Icelandic bank Landsbanki going into receivership.

Iceland's banking system was thrown into chaos today when the government took control of Landsbanki, the second biggest bank in the country, to stop it collapsing.

West Ham's chairman, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, is a major shareholder in the bank and chaired the company until he was sacked today.

Now Hammers vice chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson has urged fans not to worry about the future stability of the club despite the economic turmoil surrounding the bank.

"The government has claimed shares in the company which means that the government has claimed control. That means basically that we have lost it,'' he told Sky Sports News.

"I don't think there's any reason to be too pessimistic. West Ham United is a wonderful club and a well run company.

"This investment was very important for him, but not his only one.

"It is, of course, a blow for him and his financial strength, but he himself has a number of other investments that are doing quite well at the moment so there is no reason to fear that he will not honour his commitment to West Ham football club.

"He (Gudmundsson) is not absolutely sure how this will directly affect him, but one thing he is sure of is that this will have no implications on the other investments of him and his family.''

The financial problems that Gudmundsson is experiencing have led to suggestions that West Ham's new manager Gianfranco Zola will have no money to spend on improving his squad when the transfer window re-opens on January 1.

Fridgeirsson revealed Gudmundsson has invested £30million in the club since taking over as chairman last December.

He did say, however, that any future transfers would have to be financed by player sales because the squad is already too big.

"Our manager agrees it is not necessary for the squad to be that size so for further transfers the money would need to be generated from sales,'' said Fridgeirsson.

"There is no intention for him to invest further in the club at the moment. The club is standing strong, it is generating revenue and Mr Gudmundsson is not going to take money out of the club.''

Worries had been raised about the financial stability of the club even before Landsbanki went into receivership.

Last month the Hammers were left with a potential £5million shortfall after the club's shirt sponsor, XL, went bust.

Then, two weeks ago, an independent tribunal ruled against West Ham in the Carlos Tevez transfer affair, leaving them liable to a £30million compensation claim.

The club have since revealed they intend to appeal that decision.

Newspaper reports last weekend suggested that Indian billionaire Anil Ambani is poised to make a bid for the club.

Fridgeirsson admitted that several parties were interested in buying the club, but said Gudmundsson had no plans to sell.

"There have been agents all around the club trying to get our attention but we have turned them away,'' he said.